The first stage in hemostasis is the binding of the platelet membrane receptor glycoprotein (GP) Ib-IX complex to the A1 domain of von Willebrand factor in the subendothelium. A bleeding disorder associated with this interaction is platelet-type von Willebrand disease, which results from gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in amino acid residues 233 or 239 of the GP Ibalpha subunit of GP Ib-IX. Using optical tweezers and a quadrant photodetector, we investigated the binding of A1 to GOF and loss-of-function mutants of GP Ibalpha with mutations in the region containing the two known naturally occurring mutations. By dynamically measuring unbinding force profiles at loading rates ranging from 200-20,000 pN/s, we found that the bond strengths between A1 and GP Ibalpha GOF mutants (233, 235, 237, and 239) were significantly greater than the A1/wild-type GP Ib-IX bond at all loading rates examined (p < 0.05). In addition, mutants 231 and 232 exhibited significantly lower bond strengths with A1 than the wild-type receptors (p < 0.05). We computed unloaded dissociation rate constant (k(off)(0)) values for interactions involving mutant and wild-type GP Ib-IX receptors with A1 and found the A1/wild-type GP Ib-IX k(off)(0) value of 5.47 +/- 0.25 s(-1) to be significantly greater than the GOF k(off)(0) values and significantly less than the loss-of-function k(off)(0) values. Our data illustrate the importance of the bond kinetics associated with the VWF/GP Ib-IX interaction in hemostasis and also demonstrate the drastic changes in binding that can occur when only a single amino acid of GP Ibalpha is altered.