Stimulation of endothelial cells by various inflammatory mediators leads to release of Weibel--Palade bodies and therefore to exocytosis of both P-selectin (adhesion receptor for leukocytes) and von Willebrand factor (vWf) (platelet ligand). The potential role of vWf in leukocyte recruitment was investigated with the use of vWf-deficient mice. We report a strong reduction of leukocyte rolling in venules of vWf-deficient mice. Similarly, vWf deficiency led to a decrease in neutrophil recruitment in a cytokine-induced meningitis model as well as in early skin wounds. In all instances with an antibody that preferentially recognizes plasma membrane P-selectin, we observed a dramatic reduction in P-selectin expression at the cell surface of vWf-deficient endothelium. With confocal microscopy, we found that the typical rodlike shape of the Weibel--Palade body is missing in vWf -/- endothelial cells and that part of the P-selectin content in the vWf -/- cells colocalized with LAMP-1, a lysosomal marker. However, intracellular P-selectin levels were similar in tumor necrosis factor alpha- and lipopolysaccharide-activated cells of both genotypes. We conclude that the absence of vWf, as found in severe von Willebrand disease, leads to a defect in Weibel--Palade body formation. This defect results in decreased P-selectin translocation to the cell surface and reduced leukocyte recruitment in early phases of inflammation.