Two children with congenital chronic relapsing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) have episodes every 3 weeks. These relapses can be prevented by the infusion of normal fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) without concurrent plasmapheresis. We conducted a study to determine whether the exposure of normal plasma to agents that inactivate human immunodeficiency virus and other viruses destroys the component necessary for the effective treatment of this type of TTP that requires only plasma infusion to prevent or reverse relapses. Clinical responsiveness and von Willebrand factor (vWF)-mediated fluid shear stress-induced platelet aggregation were evaluated before and after the infusion of 10 mL/kg FFP or solvent [tri(n- butyl)phosphate]/detergent (Triton X-100)-treated plasma (S/D plasma). Platelet aggregation at shear stresses of 90 to 180 dyne/cm2 (similar to those in the partially occluded microcirculation) imposed for 30 seconds was excessive using the citrated platelet-rich plasma of both patients, and was associated with the presence of unusually large vWF forms in patient platelet-poor plasma. Infusion with either FFP or S/D plasma at 3-week intervals caused the platelet count to increase to (or above) normal within 1 week (on 12 of 12 occasions); the disappearance or diminution of unusually large vWF forms within 1 hour (on 6 of 10 occasions studied); and the reversal within 1 to 4 hours of excessive shear-induced platelet aggregation (on 8 of 9 occasions studied). We conclude that a component in normal plasma resistant to S/D treatment is responsible for preventing thrombocytopenia and TTP episodes, and for controlling excessive shear-induced aggregation in these patients. Our results suggest that excessive in vivo platelet aggregation in chronic relapsing TTP and excessive in vitro vWF-mediated shear-induced aggregation may be similar phenomena.