We have reported that prothrombin (1 microm) is able to replace high molecular weight kininogen (45 nm) as a cofactor for the specific binding of factor XI to the platelet (Baglia, F. A., and Walsh, P. N. (1998) Biochemistry 37, 2271-2281). We have also determined that prothrombin fragment 2 binds to the Apple 1 domain of factor XI at or near the site where high molecular weight kininogen binds. A region of 31 amino acids derived from high molecular weight kininogen (HK31-mer) can also bind to factor XI (Tait, J. F., and Fujikawa, K. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 11651-11656). We therefore investigated the role of prothrombin fragment 2 and HK31-mer as cofactors in the binding of factor XI to activated platelets. Our experiments demonstrated that prothrombin fragment 2 (1 microm) or the HK31-mer (8 microm) are able to replace high molecular weight kininogen (45 nm) or prothrombin (1 microm) as cofactors for the binding of factor XI to the platelet. To localize the platelet binding site on factor XI, we used mutant full-length recombinant factor XI molecules in which the platelet binding site in the Apple 3 domain was altered by alanine scanning mutagenesis. The recombinant factor XI with alanine substitutions at positions Ser(248), Arg(250), Lys(255), Leu(257), Phe(260), or Gln(263) were defective in their ability to bind to activated platelets. Thus, the interaction of factor XI with platelets is mediated by the amino acid residues Ser(248), Arg(250), Lys(255), Leu(257), Phe(260), and Gln(263) within the Apple 3 domain.