Hemostatic plug (HP) formation was investigated in the ear bleeding time incision in normal and von Willebrand pigs. HP volume was calculated by integrating the areas of serial sections. In normal pigs (n = 11), platelets immediately formed a layer on the surface of the cut channel. Platelet aggregates formed at the ends of transected vessels and gradually enlarged. Finally, all transected vessels were occluded by HP and bleeding stopped. In contrast, large HPs were formed in the incision in von Willebrand's disease (vWD) pigs (n = 4); these HPs did not cover the ends of the transected vessels, which continued to bleed, allowing the formation of large hemostatically ineffective platelet aggregates in the incision. Canals traversed these HPs, and bleeding from the open vessels may have continued through them. After infusion of cryoprecipitate into a vWD pig, the bleeding time shortened, and the morphological findings of the HPs were similar to those of normal pigs. In normal pigs (n = 3) infused with an anti-Willebrand factor monoclonal antibody, which prolonged the bleeding time, a large HP formed in the incision, similar to that observed in the vWD pig. The volume of the normal and vWD HPs increased with time. These in vivo findings suggest that Willebrand factor is involved in the localization of the HP to the damaged vessel and may also play a role in platelet-platelet interaction. A computerized morphometric technique was used for measuring the volume of the hemostatic plugs and the distance of sequential points on the perimeter of the HP from the center of selected bleeding vessels.