The interactions between ligands containing the recognition sequence arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) and integrin receptors are important in many cell-cell and cell-protein interactions. The platelet contains five integrin receptors and they contribute significantly to platelet adhesion and aggregation. To investigate the RGD binding domains on platelet integrins, we immobilized a series of RGD peptides containing variable numbers of glycine residues [(G)n-RGDF] on polyacrylonitrile beads and evaluated the ability of the beads to interact with platelets. With native platelets, virtually no interaction occurred with G1-RGDF beads, but the interactions increased as the number of glycine residues increased, plateauing with the G9-RGDF and G11-RGDF beads. ADP pretreatment enhanced the interactions with all of the beads, whereas prostaglandin E1 pretreatment eliminated the interactions with the shortest peptide beads, but only partially inhibited interactions with the longer peptide beads. Monoclonal antibodies to glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa were most effective in inhibiting the interactions, but antibodies to GPIIb/IIIa with similar inhibitory effects on fibrinogen binding varied dramatically in their ability to inhibit the interaction between platelets and immobilized RGD peptides. Our data indicate that the majority of RGD binding sites on GPIIb/IIIa can be reached by peptides that extend out approximately 11 to 32 A from the surface of the bead, and these results are in accord with the dimensions of integrin receptors deduced from electron microscopy. Activation of GPIIb/IIIa facilitates the interactions, but platelet inhibition fails to eliminate the interactions with the longer peptide beads, suggesting that access to the RGD binding site on at least a fraction of the GPIIb/IIIa receptors is always possible for preferred ligands. Finally, we found that the G3-RGDF peptide beads were uniquely sensitive to the activation state of the GPIIb/IIIa receptor.