A serine (Ser-700) amino acid rather than an asparagine (Asn-700) at residue 700 of thrombospondin-1 has been linked to an increased risk for development of premature, familial heart attacks. We now have identified both functional and structural differences between the Ser-700 and Asn-700 thrombospondin-1 variants. The Ser-700 variant increased the rate and extent of platelet aggregation and showed increased surface expression on platelets compared with the Asn-700 variant. These differences could be ascribed to an enhanced interaction of the Ser-700 variant with fibrinogen on the platelet surface and are consistent with a prothrombotic phenotype in Ser-700 individuals. The Ser-700 variant thrombospondin-1 was conformationally more labile than the Asn-700 variant as demonstrated by increased susceptibility to proteolytic digestion and enhanced susceptibility to unfolding by denaturants. These data suggest a potential molecular and cellular basis for a genetic risk factor associated with early onset myocardial infarction.