The measurement of platelet-associated IgG (PAIgG) is a potentially useful diagnostic test for idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP). However, the restricted application of PAIgG measurements to thrombocytopenic populations primarily comprised of ITP patients will artificially enhance its diagnosis specificity. For this reason, we performed a prospective study in which the results of a sensitive technique for quantitating PAIgG were related to the cause of the thrombocytopenia. Over a 1-yr period, clinicians were invited to submit patient blood samples encompassing as wide a spectrum of thrombocytopenic disorders as possible for PAIgG measurements. The physician was then contacted and requested to indicate the likeliest cause for the thrombocytopenia. The PAIgG was elevated in only 24 of 254 samples obtained from nonthrombocytopenic patients. In contrast, 134 (79%) of the 169 thrombocytopenic patients had elevated PAIgG results, and the increased levels were apparent in all diagnostic categories. The sensitivity of the PAIgG test for clinically diagnosed idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura was 91% and the specificity was 27%. The positive predictive value for a raised PAIgG as a diagnostic test for ITP in a thrombocytopenic patient was only 46%, while the negative predictive value was 82%. This study indicates that the presence of increased PAIgG provides little additional information in the diagnosis of ITP. This study also suggests that immune mechanisms may mediate many more thrombocytopenic disorders than have been previously thought likely.