The levels of glycoprotein (GP) Ib and GPV and phospholipase C activity were measured in platelets from three Bernard-Soulier syndrome patients. The patients' platelets had 46%, 46%, and 24% of control levels of GPIbt* and 43%, trace, and 13% of control levels of GPV as determined by immunoblot analysis. Stimulation by thrombin, trypsin, the thromboxane analogue U46619, and the combination of U46619 and trypsin caused the formation of [32 P] phosphatidic acid, an index of phospholipase C activity, in [32 P]orthophosphate-prelabeled platelets. With all agonists, however, the formation of [32 P] phosphatidic acid was markedly reduced in Bernard-Soulier syndrome platelets compared with control platelets. These data indicated a postreceptor defect in phospholipase C activation in Bernard-Soulier syndrome platelets and confirmed earlier observations of potential proteolytic and nonproteolytic mechanisms of platelet activation.