Hemorrhage is the most potent manifestation of envenomation by Vipera ammodytes ammodytes (V. a. ammodytes) venom in man. A detailed description of the venom components contributing to this effect is thus medically very important. We have characterized a novel component, termed here VaH3, as a potently hemorrhagic snake venom metalloproteinase (SVMP). Its proteolytic activity and overall stability depend on the presence of Zn(2+) and Ca(2+) ions. The molecular mass of this slightly acidic molecule, determined by MALDI/TOF analysis, is 104 kDa. Chemical reduction and S-carbamoylmethylation result in a single monomer of 53.7 kDa. N-deglycosylation decreased this mass by 4.6 kDa. The complete amino acid sequence of VaH3 was determined by protein and cDNA sequencing, showing that each of the identical glycoprotein subunits comprise a metalloproteinase, a disintegrin-like domain and a cysteine-rich domain, VaH3 belongs to the P-IIIc class of SVMPs. It shows strong sequence similarity to vascular endothelial cell apoptosis-inducing reprolysins. Anti-ammodytagin antibodies strongly cross-reacted with VaH3 and completely neutralized its hemorrhagic activity in rat, despite the fact that the two hemorrhagic P-III SVMPs from V. a. ammodytes venom do not share a very high degree of amino acid sequence identity. In spite of its narrow proteolytic specificity, VaH3 rapidly cleaved some basal membrane and extracellular matrix proteins, such as collagen IV, fibronectin and nidogen. Moreover, it also hydrolyzed plasma proteins involved in blood coagulation. It is an effective α-fibrinogenase that cleaves prothrombin and factor X without activating them. The degradation of these proteins likely contributes to the hemorrhagic activity of VaH3. A three-dimensional model of VaH3 was built to help explain structure-function relationships in ADAM/ADAMTS, a family of proteins having significant therapeutic potential and substantial sequence similarity to VaH3.