We studied the state of ultra-large von Willebrand factor (ULVWF) proteolysis in 21 pediatric patients with severe sepsis and found that the overall group of patients had moderately reduced ADAMTS-13 activity, but 31% had severe enzymatic deficiency. The severe deficiency correlated with greater adhesion activity of von Willebrand factor, severity of thrombocytopenia and plasma levels of interleukin-6. It also correlated clinically with severity of illness and organ dysfunction. These results suggest that ULVWF proteolysis is insufficient in septic patients and severely deficient in a subgroup of patients. The deficiency may contribute to the development of thrombocytopenia and ischemic organ failure associated with sepsis.