A large number of glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptors are present on the surface of platelets. Studies to define precisely the number of GPIIb/IIIa receptors using specific monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) or fibrinogen binding have, however, yielded varying estimates of receptor number. To refine the quantitative estimation of GPIIb/IIIa receptors on resting platelets, we have used the MoAb 7E3, which has high affinity for GPIIb/IIIa. Quantitative binding studies were performed using radiolabeled conjugates of 7E3 IgG, as well as fragments and derivatives of 7E3. For platelets obtained from any single individual, the numbers of 7E3 F(ab′)2 and IgG molecules bound per platelet were equivalent (approximately 40,000), whereas the number of Fab molecules bound per platelet was consistently approximately twofold higher (approximately 80,000). To investigate the basis of the quantitative disparity in binding of intact 7E3 and 7E3 F(ab′)2 versus 7E3 Fab, we studied the binding of a newly constructed, bispecific (Fab′)2 molecule containing only a single 7E3 combining site. Because this construct bound to the same extent as the Fab species, the larger size of the intact 7E3 and 7E3 F(ab′)2 molecules could not explain the reduced number of molecules that bound per platelet compared to the Fab fragment. Rather, it appears that the valency of the antibody is the critical factor determining the number of antibody molecules bound per platelet. Thus, we conclude that the binding of 7E3 Fab corresponds most closely with surface GPIIb/IIIa number and that the number of GPIIb/IIIa receptors is approximately 80,000 per platelet.