Two different approaches were used in order to define the epitope of three monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) against the NH2-terminal part of the mature subunit of von Willebrand factor (vWF) which contains its factor VIII (FVIII) binding site. First, a vWF cDNA fragment library using the bacteriophage lambda gt11 expression vector was screened with radiolabelled MoAbs. The epitope of each MoAb was defined, following sequence analysis, by the overlapping DNA sequence of immunoreactive clones. MoAb 32B12, a potent inhibitor of FVIII/vWF interaction, binds within the Glu35-Ile81 sequence of vWF subunit. MoAb 14A12, a non-inhibitory antibody, recognizes a sequence within Thr141-Val220. MoAb 31H3, a partial inhibitory antibody, gives no positive clone. In the second method, a panel of 24 synthetic pentadecapeptides corresponding to the first NH2-terminal 105 amino acid residues was used to block the binding of inhibitor MoAbs to immobilized vWF in an ELISA system. The localization of MoAb 32B12 epitope was confirmed and restricted to the Met51-Ala60 sequence. The MoAb 31H3 binding to vWF is inhibited by two synthetic peptides with the overlapping sequence Cys66-Gly76. All these data confirm that the FVIII binding site of vWF is not limited to the binding area (Thr78-Thr96) of the previously described MoAbs inhibiting FVIII/vWF interaction but is composed of several key sequences.