Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an increasing global health problem, may be complicated by acute atherothrombotic events. Although systemic inflammation plays the leading role in atherothrombotic processes, platelet activation and increased coagulation together with oxidative stress can significantly exacerbate atherosclerosis in COPD patients. In this study we determined platelet count, mean platelet volume (MPV) and classical markers of systemic inflammation - serum C-reactive protein (CRP), white blood cell (WBC) count and the relative proportion of segmented neutrophils in COPD patients, and compared them to those from the healthy controls. The most important and novel finding of this study was that patients with COPD had a significantly increased platelet count, along with a reduced MPV when compared to healthy controls (286 vs. 260 × 10(9)/l; 9.6 vs. 8.7 fL, respectively). Cigarette smoking had no influence on these results. The presence of systemic inflammation was clearly proved by the increase in classical inflammatory markers (CRP, WBC and segmented neutrophil count).