Vitronectin, an integrin-binding a-1-glycoprotein with potent cell-adhesion and proliferation-mediating properties, has been shown to be incorporated in surgically removed membranes from patients with proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR), proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and macular pucker. Therefore we developed an ELISA technique to quantify levels of vitronectin in human vitreous and plasma samples in order to be able to evaluate the significance of vitronectin in these different vitreoretinal diseases. Our results indicate a significant increase of vitronectin in all proliferative disorders except idiopathic macular pucker. Adjustment of all probes to equal total protein content yielded a significant increase only in PDR (type II diabetes). Plasma samples demonstrated a significant increase of vitronectin in patients with type II diabetes suffering from PDR. Therefore, break-down of the blood-retina barrier appears to be the most likely explanation for the increased levels of vitronectin in the vitreous. Our results indicate that vitronectin may not only be involved in the regulation of epiretinal membrane formation at significantly higher levels in patients with type II diabetes, but the increase of vitronectin in diabetic plasma may also help to explain the pathological alteration of the coagulation cascade in diabetics.