Blood platelet serotonin levels were measured in unmedicated 12 manic and 74 depressive patients with 118 normal control subjects employed. Blood platelets were separated by multiple centrifugation in the medium of Na2-EDTA solution, and the loss of serotonin during collecting procedures was about 11%. The mean value of blood platelet serotonin levels in depressed patients was 594 +/- 288 ng/mg platelet protein (+/- S.D.), which was significantly lower than that for normal controls, 780 +/- 253 ng/mg protein (p less than 0.001). Age does not account for the reduction of serotonin levels both in depressed and in normal population. Unipolar and involutional depressed patients exhibited to have the most pronounced reduced levels of serotonin of various subtypes of depression, while bipolar depressed patients, neurotic and chronic characterological depressed patients as well as patients with first-episode depression had the values which were comparable with those in normal controls. Manic patients did not show enhancement but did reduction of serotonin levels, the mean being 580 +/- 152 ng/mg protein, which made a contrast with their clinical manifestations of exhilaration and hyperactivity. Changes in blood platelet serotonin levels were determined before, during and after administration of L-5-HTP with a maintenance dose of 300 mg daily in nine depressed patients. Serotonin levels in all subjects were lifted to normal levels during the L-5-HTP treatment, while clinical symptoms were not improved with the treatment. Reduction of blood platelet serotonin levels in depressed patients may be due to their psychobiological distinction, which involves abnormal biogenic amine metabolism in the brain.