We have purified a reduced and alkylated tryptic fragment of von Willebrand factor (vWF) which migrated in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis as a 52/48-kDa doublet, but behaved as a single 46-kDa species after partial deglycosylation. After extensive treatment with denaturants, the 52/48-kDa polypeptide retained its ability to inhibit ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation in the presence of native vWF, as well as aggregation induced by desialylated vWF alone. Therefore, the 52/48-kDa polypeptide interacts with the platelet glycoprotein Ib receptor even in the absence of ristocetin. Both the 52/48- and the 46-kDa species inhibited ristocetin-induced binding of the intact molecule to platelets, but did not affect thrombin-induced binding. Determination of the NH2-terminal sequence of both members of the doublet gave identical results: VTLNPSDPEHCQ. This provided additional evidence that differences between the doublet constituents were only of carbohydrate composition and established the position of this peptide within the vWF polypeptide chain of approximately 2050 amino acid residues as beginning with the residue tentatively designated 449. These studies suggest that native conformation is not necessary for binding of vWF to platelets at the glycoprotein Ib receptor and that a linear amino acid sequence following residue 449 defines a domain responsible for this interaction.