ADAMTS proteases typically employ some combination of ancillary C-terminal disintegrin-like, thrombospondin-1, cysteine-rich, and spacer domains to bind substrates and facilitate proteolysis by an N-terminal metalloprotease domain. We constructed chimeric proteases and substrates to examine the role of C-terminal domains of ADAMTS13 and ADAMTS5 in the recognition of their physiological cleavage sites in von Willebrand factor (VWF) and aggrecan, respectively. ADAMTS5 cleaves Glu373-Ala374 and Glu 1480-Gly1481 bonds in bovine aggrecan but does not cleave VWF. Conversely, ADAMTS13 cleaves the Tyr1605-Met1606 bond of VWF, which is exposed by fluid shear stress but cannot cleave aggrecan. Replacing the thrombospondin-1/cysteine-rich/spacer domains of ADAMTS5 with those of ADAMTS13 conferred the ability to cleave the Glu1615- Ile1616 bond of VWF domain A2 in peptide substrates or VWF multimers that had been sheared; native (unsheared) VWF multimers were resistant. Thus, by recombining exosites, we engineered ADAMTS5 to cleave a new bond in VWF, preserving physiological regulation by fluid shear stress. The results demonstrate that noncatalytic thrombospondin-1/cysteine-rich/spacer domains are principal modifiers of substrate recognition and cleavage by both ADAMTS5 and ADAMTS13. Noncatalytic domains may perform similar functions in other ADAMTS family members.