Thrombospondin (TSP), an adhesive integrin-binding protein of plasma and platelets, was detected in preretinal traction membranes from patients with idiopathic (8/8) and traumatic (7/8) proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) (6/8). TSP immunoreactivity was compared to the pattern of von Willebrand factor, plasma transglutaminase (blood coagulation factor XIII), fibronectin, and mononuclear phagocytes, using double-label immunofluorescence microscopy. TSP was partially colocalised with the endothelial cell marker, von Willebrand factor, in PDR. The codistribution of catalytic factor XIII and two cross-linking substrates, fibronectin and TSP, suggests a functional role of the enzyme in the extracellular matrix build-up in PVR and PDR. No significant TSP synthesis by mononuclear phagocytes was observed. Western blotting indicated a plasmin-mediated intravitreal breakdown of presumably plasmatic TSP in PVR and PDR.