Integrin binding to proteins often involves recognition of domains containing the arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD) motif. Different binding affinities and specificities of the integrin-ligand protein interactions involve additional protein domains. The n.m.r. structure of the snake-venom protein echistatin suggested that the C-terminal portion of the molecule might be important, in addition to the RGD domain, in binding to the integrin glycoprotein IIbIIIa (GPIIbIIIa) [Saudek, Atkinson and Pelton (1991) Biochem. 30, 7369-7372]. The synthetic C-terminal peptide, echistatin-(40-49), PRNPHKGPAT, (1) inhibited binding of GPIIbIIIa to immobilized echistatin (IC50 3-6 mM), but did not inhibit binding of GPIIbIIIa to immobilized fibrinogen (up to 5 mM peptide), (2) activated GPIIbIIIa binding to fibronectin and vitronectin, usual ligands for the activated integrin, (3) activated binding of GPIIbIIIa to collagen type I and type IV, proteins not usually regarded as ligands for the integrin, and (4) stimulated 125I-fibrinogen binding by human platelets. These findings argue for an interaction of this non-RGD domain in echistatin with GPIIbIIIa, leading to activation of the integrin and extension of the ligand specificity to include immobilized collagen.