Although dietary intake and plasma levels of vitamin C have been inversely associated with cardiovascular disease, the mechanism through which it may exert its effect has not been fully explained. Since thrombosis plays an important role in the onset of cardiovascular disease, we investigated the effect of vitamin C on measures of hemostasis that have been associated with cardiovascular risk. The effect of vitamin C on lipid levels was also evaluated. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study, we determined the effect of 2 g daily of vitamin C supplementation on platelet adhesion and aggregation, levels of tissue plasminogen activator antigen, plasminogen activator inhibitor, fibrinogen, plasma viscosity, von Willebrand factor, and lipid levels in 18 healthy male volunteers with low normal vitamin C levels. No striking effects of vitamin C on the hemostatic measures were observed, although tissue plasminogen activator antigen levels were inversely related to Vitamin C levels. Von Willebrand factor levels were slightly higher with vitamin C, although within the normal range. Total cholesterol levels were 10% lower when subjects were receiving vitamin C compared to placebo (167+/-7 mg/dL vs. 184+/-7 mg/dL), P=0. 007), although the total cholesterol/HDL ratio was not significantly different. Higher levels of tissue plasminogen activator antigen, which in the present study were associated with lower vitamin C levels, have been shown in prospective studies to convey an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Further studies of the effect of vitamin C on hemostatic measures are required in higher risk populations or those with known cardiovascular disease.