Patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) have increased platelet activation compared to non-diabetic controls. Platelet hyperreactivity has been associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes in Type 2 DM, and with diabetic nephropathy. We investigated the relationship between platelet activation and nephropathy in Type 1 DM. Patients with Type 1 DM and diabetic nephropathy (n = 35), age- and sex-matched Type 1 DM patients with persistent normoalbuminuria (n = 51), and healthy age- and sex-matched controls (n = 30) were studied. Platelet surface P-selectin, platelet surface activated GPIIb/IIIa, monocyte-platelet aggregates (MPAs) and neutrophil-platelet aggregates (NPAs) were measured by whole blood flow cytometry as markers of platelet activation. Platelet reactivity was assessed in response to exogenously added ADP and thrombin receptor activating peptide (TRAP). Platelet surface P-selectin (basal and in response to 0.5 or 20 microM ADP) was higher in nephropathy patients compared with normoalbuminuric patients (P = 0.027), and non-diabetic controls (P = 0.0057). NPAs were higher in nephropathy patients compared to normoalbuminuric patients (P = 0.0088). MPAs were higher in nephropathy patients compared to non-diabetic controls (P = 0.0075). There were no differences between groups in activated GPIIb/IIIa or in response to TRAP at any end-point. More patients with nephropathy received aspirin (71.4%) compared to normoalbuminuric patients (27.4%) (P < 0.0001). Type 1 diabetic nephropathy, as compared with normoalbuminuria, is associated with circulating activated platelets and platelet hyperreactivity to ADP, despite the confounding variable of more nephropathy patients receiving aspirin. This platelet activation is likely to contribute to the known increased risk of cardiovascular events in patients with diabetic nephropathy.