The blood volumes and concentrations of thromboxane B2 (TxB2), platelet factor 4 (PF4), and fibrinopeptide A (FPA) were measured every 30 seconds in bleeding-time blood in normal subjects and in patients with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), delta and alpha delta storage pool deficiency (SPD), Bernard-Soulier Syndrome (BSS), thrombasthenia (TSA), and von Willebrand's disease (vWD). Data were fitted to second-order (TxB2, PF4, and FPA) or third-order (volumes) polynomials. Average values for various parameters over fixed-time intervals were determined by numerical methods. The bleeding time was greater than 15 minutes in all patient groups and the initial bleeding, as reflected by the initial slope of the fitted blood volume curves, was increased in ITP, BSS, and SPD (delta-SPD in particular), but not in vWD and TSA. The increased values for both the initial slope and the volume of blood collected after 2 minutes in SPD suggest that vascular tone may be modulated, in part, by dense granule substances such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or serotonin. In TSA, uniquely, both platelet (TxB2 and PF4) and coagulation (FPA) values were increased in early bleeding samples (initial slope). In vitro studies of TxB2 production, together with previous flow studies of fibrin formation, also suggest enhanced activation and coagulant properties of thrombasthenic platelets. In other patients, reduced values of all substances at later times may reflect impaired platelet-fibrin plug formation in the high-shear regions at the ends of transected blood vessels. However, the initial slopes of the fitted curves for both TxB2 and PF4 were normal in vWD, suggesting that the early appearance of these substances may typically be from platelets that are adherent to collagen within the lower shear environment of the wound surface. The finding that FPA values were not decreased initially in any patient group, including ITP, but were decreased at later times (except for TSA), suggests that early fibrin formation occurs independently of platelets in the low-shear environment of the wound surface, whereas at later times fibrin is formed in a platelet-dependent manner in the high- shear regions at the ends of transected vessels.