Glycoprotein (GP) IIIb (also termed GPIV or CD36) is an integral platelet membrane protein, and has been identified as a binding site for thrombospondin, collagen, and malaria-infected erythrocytes. PAS-IV is an integral membrane protein found in lactating mammary epithelial cells and capillary endothelial cells. The N-terminal sequence of PAS- IV is nearly identical to that of GPIIIb and monospecific anti-PAS-IV antibody reacts with GPIIIb, indicating that PAS-IV is structurally related to GPIIIb. In this study, human platelet GPIIIb and bovine epithelial PAS-IV were compared in terms of structural, immunologic, and functional characteristics. The two-dimensional tryptic peptide map of both intact and deglycosylated PAS-IV was highly similar but not identical to that of GPIIIb. PAS-IV and GPIIIb reacted to an equal extent with monoclonal antibodies OKM5 and OKM8 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. GPIIIb bound to surface immobilized thrombospondin (TSP) in a concentration-dependent and saturable manner, with approximately 60% reduction in binding in the presence of EDTA. PAS-IV bound to TSP with similar characteristics except that maximum binding was consistently approximately 50% of that of GPIIIb and binding was not inhibited by EDTA. GPIIIb supported adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (PRBC) in a dose-dependent manner while no significant adhesion of PRBC to PAS-IV was observed. Our data demonstrate that while epithelial PAS-IV and platelet GPIIIb are structurally and immunologically related, there are significant differences in their functional properties. Whether this result is due to different posttranslational glycosylation modifications or that PAS- IV and GPIIIb represent a family of related cell adhesive protein receptors remains to be determined.