Mutant domains of von Willebrand factor (vWF) were constructed to determine the effects of altering net charge, and presumably conformation, within a peptide sequence (residues 694-708) previously shown to be involved in the platelet receptor glycoprotein (GP) Ib binding function of vWF. Non-conservative substitutions replaced a triplet of proline residues (proline702-704) with either a triplet of arginine (positively-charged) or aspartic acid (negatively-charged) residues. After establishing stable CHO cell transformants, we observed the secretion of covalently-linked dimeric molecules analogous to a domain with native sequence. Functional assays using immunopurified molecules revealed that the ristocetin-dependent binding to GP Ib was abolished with both charge mutants. However, in the absence of disulfide-bond dependent conformation both mutant molecules and the molecule with native sequence interacted with GP Ib. The results demonstrate that vWF proline702-704 are important for the ristocetin-mediated interaction between vWF and GP Ib, but are not essential residues of the GP Ib binding site within vWF.