Flow cytometric studies suggest that platelets are activated in ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA). However, few studies have measured circulating leucocyte-platelet complexes in this patient population. Whole blood flow cytometry was used to quantify the expression of CD62P-, CD63-, and PAC1-binding, and the percentages of leucocyte-platelet complexes in acute (1-27 d, n = 79) and convalescent (79-725 d, n = 70) ischaemic cerebrovascular disease (CVD) patients compared with controls without CVD (n = 27). We performed a full blood count, and measured plasma levels of soluble P-selectin, soluble E-selectin, and von Willebrand factor antigen (VWF:Ag) as additional markers of platelet and/or endothelial cell activation. The median percentage CD62P expression and the median percentage monocyte-platelet complexes were higher in both acute and convalescent CVD patients than controls (P </= 0.02). The mean white cell count and mean VWF:Ag levels were significantly elevated in the acute and convalescent phases after ischaemic stroke or TIA (P </= 0.02). Otherwise, there was no significant increase in any other marker of platelet or endothelial activation in CVD patients. There was a positive correlation between the percentage expression of CD62P and the percentages of both neutrophil-platelet and monocyte-platelet complexes in the acute phase, and the percentages of all leucocyte-platelet complexes in the convalescent phase after ischaemic CVD. This study provides evidence for ongoing excessive platelet and/or endothelial activation in ischaemic CVD patients despite treatment with antithrombotic therapy.