A number of poorly characterized genetic modifiers contribute to the extensive variability of von Willebrand disease, the most prevalent bleeding disorder in humans. We find that a genetic lesion inactivating the murine ST3Gal-IV sialyltransferase causes a bleeding disorder associated with an autosomal dominant reduction in plasma von Willebrand factor (VWF) and an autosomal recessive thrombocytopenia. Although both ST3Gal-IV and ST6Gal-I sialyltransferases mask galactose linkages implicated as asialoglycoprotein receptor ligands, only ST3Gal-IV deficiency promotes asialoglycoprotein clearance mechanisms with a reduction in plasma levels of VWF and platelets. Exposed galactose on VWF was also found in a subpopulation of humans with abnormally low VWF levels. Oligosaccharide branch-specific sialylation by the ST3Gal-IV sialyltransferase is required to sustain the physiologic half-life of murine hemostatic components and may be an important modifier of plasma VWF level in humans.