Summary We have previously reported that two forms of von Willebrand factor (vWf) exist in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells: a high molecular weight (HMW) form that is released and can be proteolytically cleaved into a series of plasma-like multimers, and a non-secreted low molecular weight (LMW) form. In this study, the mode of vWf release and the relationship between the two forms were examined. As determined by two-dimensional analysis as well as by immunoreactivity with an antibody to the propolypeptide, the LMW form of endothelial cell vWf consisted of a 260 kD pro-vWf polypeptide, while the HMW form consisted of a 225 kD mature polypeptide. Only the 260 kD polypeptide was susceptible to digestion with endoglycosidase H. Release of the HMW form into the culture media was accompanied by a decrease in cellular vWf. Treatment of endothelial cells with cycloheximide or tunicamycin caused a decrease in the LMW form but did not affect the secretion of the HMW form. These results suggest that two pools of vWf exist in endothelial cells—a LMW form of pro-vWf in the endoplasmic reticulum and a HMW form of mature vWf in the storage compartment. Released vWf derives only from the storage pool.