We have analyzed the multimeric structure of factor VIII/von Willebrand factor in plasma by sodium dodecyl sulfate electrophoresis using gels of varying porosity and a discontinuous buffer system. Factor VIII/von Willebrand factor bands were identified by reaction with 125I-labeled affinity-purified antibody and subsequent autoradiography. In 1% agarose gels, normal plasma displayed a series of sharply defined oligomers. However, increasing the agarose concentration to 2.0% or utilizing mixtures of 0.8% agarose--1.75% acrylamide revealed two bands of lesser intensity interposed between the major bands. When the acrylamide concentration in the gels was increased to 2.5%, bands with a faster mobility than IgM and fibronectin were now evident. Type IIA von Willebrand's disease showed not only an absence of the larger multimers but also a relative increase in several of the newly identified bands as compared to type IIB, type I, and normal. These studies suggest that factor VII/von Willebrand factor in IIA von Willebrand's disease is structurally different from that in other forms of the disorder. They also indicate that the multimeric composition of factor VII/von Willebrand factor is more complex than can be explained by simple linear polymerization of a single protomer.