Whole blood flow cytometry is a powerful new laboratory technique for assessment of platelet activation and function. Flow cytometry can be used to measure platelet hyperreactivity, circulating activated platelets, leukocyte-platelet aggregates, and procoagulant platelet-derived microparticles in a number of clinical settings, including acute coronary syndromes, angioplasty, cardiopulmonary bypass, acute cerebrovascular ischemia, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia, and Alzheimer's disease. Clinical applications of whole blood flow cytometric assays of platelet function in these diseases may include identification of patients who would benefit from additional antiplatelet therapy and prediction of ischemic events. Circulating monocyte-platelet aggregates appear to be a more sensitive marker of in vivo platelet activation than circulating P-selectin-positive platelets. Flow cytometry can also be used in the following clinical settings: monitoring of glycoprotein IIb-IIIa antagonist therapy, diagnosis of inherited deficiencies of platelet surface glycoproteins, diagnosis of storage pool disease, diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, and measurement of the rate of thrombopoiesis.