Recent studies have shown that the hematopoietic system is under neuroendocrine control. In particular, thrombopoiesis has been proven to be stimulated by melatonin, and the pineal indole has been shown to be effective in the treatment of thrombocytopenia resulting from different causes. At present, however, there are no data concerning the possible thrombopoietic activity of pineal indoles other than melatonin. The present study was carried out to evaluate the effect of a concomitant administration of the pineal indole 5-methoxytryptamine in patients with cancer-related thrombocytopenia who did not respond to melatonin alone. The present study included 30 patients, who were randomized to receive melatonin alone (20 mg/day orally in the evening) or melatonin plus 5-methoxytryptamine (1 mg/day orally in the early afternoon). A normalization of platelet count was achieved in 5/14 (36%) patients treated with melatonin plus 5-methoxytryptamine and in none of the patients treated with melatonin alone (P < 0.05). Moreover, mean platelet number significantly increased only in the patients treated with melatonin plus 5-methoxytryptamine. This preliminary clinical study would suggest that 5-methoxytryptamine, a pineal indole, may also exert thrombopoietic activity. Further studies, however, will be required to establish whether 5-methoxytryptamine may play a direct thrombopoietic activity, or whether it may act by improving melatonin's efficacy.