The formation of a complex between factor VIII (FVIII) and von Willebrand factor (vWF) was studied using purified radiolabeled human FVIII and purified human vWF. A binding assay was developed in which vWF was coated on microtiter wells. FVIII was shown to bind specifically and reversibly to the immobilized vWF. At a coating of 70 pg vWF/well, binding was half-maximal at a FVIII concentration of 70 +/- 10 pM. In order to ascertain which part of FVIII interacted with vWF, eight monoclonal antibodies, directed against FVIII, were tested for their ability to inhibit FVIII-vWF interaction. One of the eight antibodies, CLB-CAg:58, inhibited binding completely. This antibody was demonstrated to react with the Mr-80,000 light chain of FVIII. Direct evidence for the involvement of this chain in vWF binding was obtained by studying the binding of isolated, radiolabeled FVIII heavy and light chains. In a typical experiment 23-30% of the radioactivity bound when the FVIII light chain was added and less than 1% when the FVIII heavy chain was added.