We previously demonstrated that the primary region of factor IX and IXa responsible for saturable specific binding to bovine aortic endothelial cells resides in residues 3-11 at the amino terminus of factor IX. We also demonstrated that mutations of lysine to alanine at residue 5, factor IX K5A, or valine to lysine at residue 10, factor IX V10K, resulted in a molecule unable to bind to endothelial cells. Moreover, a mutation with lysine to arginine at residue 5, factor IX K5R, resulted in a factor IX molecule with increased affinity for the endothelial cell binding site. In this paper we report that collagen IV is a strong candidate for the factor IX binding site on endothelial cells. Factor IX and factor IX K5R compete with 125I-labeled factor IX for binding to tetrameric collagen IV immobilized on microtiter plates, while factor X, factor VII, and factor IX K5A or V10K fail to compete. The Kd for wild-type factor IX binding to collagen IV in the presence of heparin was 6.8 +/- 2 nM, and the Kd for factor IX K5R was 1.1 +/- 0.2 nM, which agrees well with our previously published Kd values of 7.4 and 2.4 nM for binding of the same proteins to endothelial cells. Our working assumption is that we have identified the endothelial cell binding site and that it is collagen IV. Its physiological relevance remains to be determined.