The absence of large von Willebrand factor (vWF) multimers from plasma is a characteristic of Type IIA von Willebrand's disease (vWD) and is thought to contribute to the clinical expression of this disorder. Recently, three IIA patients have been reported in whom intermediate and large multimers could be restored if blood were collected in 5 mm EDTA, 6 mmol/L N-ethylmaleimide, and 1 mmol/L leupeptin. This suggested that absence of large multimers resulted from in vitro proteolysis. We have now collected blood from ten Type IIA vWD patients in these inhibitors but were not able to detect large multimers in the plasma of any of them. In addition, intermediate-sized multimers were reduced or completely absent in all. The inclusion of inhibitors in the citrate anticoagulant, as compared to citrate alone, was found to increase the relative proportion of intermediate multimers in some patients but had no effect in others, and in none did it restore large multimers to plasma. The results with platelet vWF were more varied. Four patients showed an absence or decrease of large multimers, whereas in seven patients large multimers were present. When compared with citrate anticoagulant alone, the inclusion of inhibitors in the anticoagulant had little or no effect on the platelet multimeric pattern. 1-Deamino-8-D-Arginine Vasopressin (DDAVP) was administered to six patients from five families. Two patients from one family showed complete correction and a third patient showed almost complete correction of her bleeding time. Two patients showed minimal correction and one showed no detectable correction. An increase in multimer size after DDAVP tended to be associated with correction of the bleeding time. However, in no case did the largest multimers appear in plasma even in patients with complete bleeding time correction. The presence or absence of inhibitors in the anticoagulant had little or no effect on the multimeric pattern after DDAVP. These results indicate that Type IIA vWD is a heterogeneous disorder in which absence of largest and intermediate multimers is an in vivo phenomenon.