Summary. The purpose of the present study was to prelabel mobile receptors on discoid platelets with specific ligands identifiable in the electron microscope and follow their redistribution during spreading. Platelets were incubated in suspension with cytochalasin E (CE) to preserve discoid form, chilled and mounted on cold formvar grids or glass slide fragments to inhibit receptor movement, covered with cold bovine or ristocetin-activated human plasmas as sources of vWF to bind GPIb/IX, fibrinogen-coated gold particles (Fgn/ Au) to couple GPIIb/IIIa, or both probes simultaneously, washed to remove CE and rewarmed to 37°C for intervals up to 30min to stimulate spreading. After brief fixation grids and glass fragments were incubated with anti-vWF antibody and, subsequently, staphylococcal protein A coupled to 5 nm and 10 nm gold particles to detect vWF multimers. Virtually all of the CE-treated chilled platelets retained their discoid shape. Half of the discs (53-3%) bound Fgn/Au, and all bound vWF. Receptors for both ligands were randomly dispersed on discoid cells from edge to edge. During re warming discoid platelets expanded into spread forms. Fgn/Au-GPIIb/IIIa complexes moved into caps over cell centres and into residual channels of the open canalicular system (OCS). vWF bound to GPIb/IX moved with the cell membrane as the surface expanded during spreading. Discoid platelets prelabelled with both ligands demonstrated similar findings. During rewarming Fgn/Au-GPIIb/IIIa complexes moved to cell centres and into OCS channels. vWF multimers bound to GPIb/IX moved apart from each other toward peripheral margins of the spread cells. Thus, surface activation resulting in conversion of discoid platelets to spread forms does not cause clearance of GPIb/IX receptors to cell centres and channels of the OCS in the manner that GPIIb/IIIa receptors coupled to Fgn/Au are simultaneously translocated and concentrated in OCS channels.