Previous studies have shown that ADAMTS13 spacer domain is required for cleavage of von Willebrand factor (VWF). However, the exact amino acid residues within this domain critical for substrate recognition are not known. Epitope mapping of anti-ADAMTS13 immunoglobulin G from patients with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and sequence alignment of the ADAMTS13 spacer domains of human, mouse, and zebrafish with these of human and murine ADAMTS1, a closely related member of ADAMTS family, have provided hints to investigate the role of the amino acid residues between Arg659 and Glu664 of theADAMTS13 spacer domain in substrate recognition. A deletion of all these 6 amino acid residues (ie, Arg659-Glu664) from the ADAMTS13 spacer domain resulted in dramatically reduced proteolytic activity toward VWF73 peptides, guanidine-HCl denatured VWF, and native VWF under fluid shear stress, as well as ultralarge VWF on endothelial cells. Site-directed mutagenesis, kinetic analyses, and peptide inhibition assays have further identified a role for amino acid residues Arg659, Arg660, and Tyr 661 in proteolytic cleavage of various substrates under static and fluid shear stress conditions. These findings may provide novel insight into the structural-function relationship of ADAMTS13 and help us to understand pathogenesis of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and other arterial thromboses associated with compromised VWF proteolysis. © 2010 by The American Society of Hematology.