An immunoadsorbent method has been developed for the direct analysis of normal and variant plasma factor VIII. Using this method, the molecular defect responsible for mild hemophilia A has been identified for a patient whose plasma factor VIII activity is 0.05 unit/ml, even though the factor VIII antigen content is 3.25 units/ml. Although the variant factor VIII has an apparently normal molecular mass and chain composition, the 92-kDa heavy chain accumulates when the variant protein is incubated with thrombin and the 44-kDa heavy chain fragment cannot be detected. In contrast, thrombin cleavage of the 80-kDa light chain to the 72-kDa fragment is normal. As these data indicate a loss of factor VIII cleavage by thrombin at arginine-372, the genetic defect was determined by polymerase-chain-reaction amplification of exon 8 of the factor VIII gene and direct sequencing of the amplified product. A single-base substitution (guanine----adenine) was identified that produces an arginine to histidine substitution at amino acid residue 372. These data identify the molecular basis of an abnormal factor VIII, "factor VIII-Kumamoto," that lacks procoagulant function because of impaired thrombin activation.