The effect of red wine drinking was tested on fibrinolytic parameters and blood cells in nine healthy students at rest and after acute exercise. The subjects were randomly assigned in a crossover design to one of three treatment regimes: control situation, low-dose wine group, and high-dose wine group. Blood samples were drawn just prior to experimental start, at 2 and 4 hours, and the next morning at 8:00 a.m., at 8:30 a.m. just after exercise, and 2 hours after exercise. The fibrinolytic potential was measured by whole blood clot lysis time (WBCLT), tissue plasminogen activator, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) antigens in plasma. A whole blood system was used to test the reactivity of blood cells by stimulating hirudinized blood with 5 ng/mL lipopolyusaccharide (LPS) for 2 hours at 37 degrees C and measurements of tissue necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-8 (IL-8) in the plasma. Intake of red wine caused impaired fibrinolysis shown by prolonged WBCLT (3.6, 20.7, and 55.7%, respectively, for control, low- and high-dose wine groups) due to increase in PAI-1 antigen (-0.8, 4.8, and 11.0 ng/mL, respectively, in the three groups). There was no effect of the red wine the next morning on the fibrinolytic system. A strong correlation was observed between WBCLT and PAI-1 antigen (p<0.0001). Acute exercise caused an immediate rise in both tissue plasminogen activator antigen and PAI-1 antigen levels and WBCLT was significantly shortened. In contrast to that of the wine groups, 2 hours after exercise WBCLT was prolonged in the control group, but not significantly so. Thus the red wine has a negative effect on the fibrinolytic system during rest, but may have a positive effect after strenuous exercise. The red wine had no immediate effect on LPS-induced tissue necrosis factor alpha or IL-8 production, although there was a tendency for higher cytokine production in the control group compared to the wine groups during and just after intake of wine. The next morning after exercise, the LPS-induced IL-8 production increased 137, 89, and 96%, respectively, in control, low-, and high-dose wine groups, probably due to a rise in epinephrine and activation of platelets. Although not significantly so, there was a tendency for red wine intake in the evening to suppress the reactivity of the cells after physical exercise the subsequent morning. It is suggested that the negative effect of red wine ingestion may be due to the toxic effect of ethanol on hepatocytes or adipose tissue and subsequent release of PAI-1, whereas the positive effect may be due to the red wine suppression of platelet activation and release of PAI-1 from activated platelets. It is proposed that at least part of the beneficial effect of red wine ingestion may be associated with the downregulation of cytokine production.