Prickly pear is traditionally used by Pima Indians as a dietary nutrient against diabetes mellitus. We examined the effect of daily consumption of 250 g in 8 healthy volunteers and 8 patients with mild familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia on various parameters of platelet function. Beside its action on lipids and lipoproteins, prickly pear consumption significantly reduced the platelet proteins (platelet factor 4 and beta-thromboglobulin), ADP-induced platelet aggregation and improved platelet sensitivity (against PGI2 and PGE1) in volunteers as well as in patients. Also plasma 11-DH-TXB2 and the WU-test showed a significant improvement in both patients and volunteers. In contrast, collagen-induced platelet aggregation and the number of circulating endothelial cells showed a significant response in patients only. No influence of prickly pear ingestion on peripheral platelet count was monitored. The dietary run-in period did not influence any of the parameters of haemostasis examined. No sex difference was seen. Prickly pear may induce at least part of its beneficial actions on the cardiovascular system via decreasing platelet activity and thereby improving haemostatic balance.