A method for the measurement of immunoglobulin G associated with gel-filtered platelets is described and finding in 70 control subjects and 37 patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) are reported. Control platelet-associated IgG (PAIgG) levels (nanograms IgG per 10(9) platelets) averaged (+/-SD) 1231+/-424; samples studied after 24 and 48 hr remained within the control range. PAIgG values of 19 adult and 12 childhood patients with chronic ITP averaged 4711+/-3025 and 4923+/-3955, respectively, and differed significantly from controls (p less than 0.001). There was an inverse correlation between PAIgG values and the chronic ITP patient's platelet count. Six patients with childhood acute ITP had PAIgG levels ranging from 5588 to 56,250 and appeared to represent a different statistical population from those with chronic ITP. In chronic ITP patients responding to splenectomy, there was an immediate normalization of PAIgG levels; however, a certain percentage of patients studied several months after splenectomy evidenced elevated PAIgG levels in association with normal platelet counts. These data showed that the direct measurement of platelet associated antibody is a useful technique in the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with chronic ITP. Preliminary studies in patients with acute ITP have suggested that this method may be useful in differentiating acute and chronic childhood ITP.