Chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is due to platelet destruction by circulating antiplatelet antibody. Although autoantibodies against the platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa (GPIIb/IIIa) complex and GPIb have been demonstrated using various methods, practical assays for detection of platelet-associated or plasma autoantibodies have not been available. We studied 59 patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura in whom platelet-associated and plasma autoantibodies against the GPIIb/IIIa complex and GPIb were measured using a newly developed immunobead assay and a previously reported microtiter-well assay. Platelet-associated autoantibody was detected using the immunobead assay in 21 of 28 patients (75.0%; 13 with anti-GPIIb/IIIa, 8 with anti-GPIb). Plasma autoantibodies were noted in 34 of 59 patients (57.6%; 21 with anti-GPIIb/IIIa, 11 with anti-GPIb, and 2 with both). Positive results were noted in 30 of 59 patients using the immunobead assay and in only 14 of 59 using the microtiter-well assay, suggesting that solubilization of the platelets prior to antibody addition, as in the microtiter-well assay, alters epitope stability. Of the 31 thrombocytopenic control patients studied, all gave negative results using both assays. We conclude that these clinically adaptable assays allow detection of autoantibodies in most patients with chronic ITP, confirming the presence of an autoimmune process.