The only published report of the purification of native human soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) used placenta as starting material. This enzyme preparation showed low fold-activation by NO and a maximal absorption of the prosthetic heme-group at 417nm indicative of a prosthetic heme-group in a hexa-coordinate state. These data are in contrast to what has subsequently been found for the recombinant human enzymes. Apart from this placental enzyme preparation, a native functional human NO-sensitive sGC has not been successfully purified. The aim of the current study was to purify and characterize native human sGC from another source, to see whether the discrepancies between native and recombinant sGC seen for placenta are a general phenomenon. We chose human platelets as starting material since the properties of this enzyme are directly relevant for the development of innovative antiplatelet and antianginal drugs. Our results indicate that the native platelet enzyme exists as a highly NO-sensitive, heterodimeric enzyme with an alpha(1) and beta(1) subunit. In contrast to the native human placental enzyme and in accordance with the human recombinant enzymes, the native human platelet enzyme contains a ferrous, penta-coordinate heme group. To our knowledge this is the first report of the successful purification and characterization of the native human nitric oxide sensitive alpha(1)/beta(1) isoform of sGC which is widely expressed in the cardiovascular system and is an important target of innovative drugs.