Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a key mediator of neuronal plasticity in the adult. BDNF is known to be stored in human platelets and to circulate in plasma, but the regulation and function of BDNF in peripheral blood is still poorly understood. In this prospective study, we have examined 140 healthy, non-allergic adults (20-60 years old) to elucidate the impact of age and physical parameters on BDNF levels in human platelets and plasma. There was a wide concentration range of BDNF in serum (median: 22.6 ng/ml), platelets (median: 92.7 pg/10(6) platelets) and plasma (median: 92.5 pg/ml). BDNF levels in plasma decreased significantly with increasing age or weight, whereas platelet levels did not. When matched for weight, there were no significant gender differences regarding BDNF plasma levels. However, women displayed significantly lower platelet BDNF levels than men. In addition, platelet BDNF levels changed during the menstrual cycle. In conclusion, we demonstrate that parameters such as age or gender have a specific impact on stored and circulating BDNF levels in peripheral blood.