von Willebrand factor (vWF) is synthesized exclusively by endothelial cells and megakaryocytes, and stored in the intracellular granules or constitutively secreted into plasma. ABO blood group antigens are covalently associated with asparagine-linked sugar chains of plasma vWF. The effect of ABO-mismatched bone marrow transplantation (BMT) or blood stem cell transplantation (BSCT) on the expression of ABO blood group antigens on the vWF was examined to obtain information on the origin of these antigens. In ABO-mismatched (HLA-matched) groups, 8 cases of BMT and 4 cases of BSCT were examined. In all cases, the ABO blood groups on red blood cells were gradually converted to the donor's type within 80 to 90 days after the transplantation. The blood group antigens on the vWF were consistent with the recipient's blood group for the period monitored by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). When vWF was isolated from normal platelets and examined for the blood group antigens using ELISA or immunoblotting, it showed few antigens. However, vWF extracted from veins expressed blood group antigens. These findings indicate that platelet (megakaryocyte)-derived vWF does not contain blood group antigens and that these antigens may be specifically associated with vWF synthesized in endothelial cells and secreted into plasma. Furthermore, it is possible that the persistence of the recipient's blood group antigens on plasma glycoproteins such as vWF, independent of the donor-derived erythrocytes, after ABO-mismatched stem cell transplantation, may influence the immunological system in the production of anti-blood group antibodies resulting in the establishment of immunological tolerance in the recipient plasma.