Platelets play a central role in maintaining hemostasis mainly by binding to subendothelial collagen exposed upon vascular injury, thereby initiating thrombus formation. Platelets can bind directly to the exposed collagen through two major receptors i.e. the integrin alpha 2 beta 1 and glycoprotein (GP) VI. However, under high shear conditions the GPIb-V-IX receptor complex and its main ligand von Willebrand Factor are additionally needed for firm platelet adhesion to the vessel wall. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the individual roles and structure-function relationships of these main platelet adhesion receptors. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.