The human Bernard-Soulier syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder of platelet dysfunction presenting with mild thrombocytopenia, circulating "giant" platelets and a bleeding phenotype. The bleeding in patients with the Bernard-Soulier syndrome is disproportionately more severe than suggested by the reduced platelet count and is explained by a defect in primary hemostasis owing to the absence of the platelet glycoprotein (GP) Ib-IX-V membrane receptor. However, the molecular basis for the giant platelet phenotype and thrombocytopenia have remained unresolved but assumed to be linked to an absent receptor complex. We have disrupted the gene encoding the alpha-subunit of mouse GP Ib-IX-V (GP Ibalpha) and describe a murine model recapitulating the hallmark characteristics of the human Bernard-Soulier syndrome. The results demonstrate a direct link between expression of a GP Ib-IX-V complex and normal megakaryocytopoiesis and platelet morphogenesis. Moreover, using transgenic technology the murine Bernard-Soulier phenotype was rescued by expression of a human GP Ibalpha subunit on the surface of circulating mouse platelets. Thus, an in vivo model is defined for analysis of the human GP Ib-IX-V receptor and its role in the processes performed exclusively by megakaryocytes and platelets.