Measurement of the von Willebrand factor (vWF) propeptide, also known as von Willebrand antigen II, has been suggested to be helpful in the discrimination of congenital von Willebrand disease type I from type 2 and in assessing the extent of activation of the endothelium. We performed a quantitative analysis of mature vWF and its propeptide in plasma in 8 patients with acquired von Willebrand syndrome (AvWS) and in 20 normal individuals. Mature vWF levels were significantly lower in AvWS as compared with normal individuals (13.4+/-3.5 vs 35.6+/-3.3 nM, p <0.001). In contrast, propeptide levels were significantly higher in AvWS (11.4+/-1.1 vs 4.7+/-0.2 nM, p <0.001), probably reflecting a compensatory increase in vWF synthesis or increased perturbation of the endothelium in AvWS. After treatment with DDAVP, propeptide and mature vWF levels rose 5-fold in AvWS, whereas propeptide levels were not altered by the infusion of a vWF concentrate or treatment with high dose intravenous immunoglobulins, indicating that plasma propeptide levels are a reliable reflection of vWF synthesis. Measurement of propeptide levels may provide additional information in AvWS as to whether decreased levels of mature vWF in the circulation are due to a decrease in synthesis or due to an accelerated removal of vWF from the circulation.