Platelet function was evaluated in six specific-pathogen-free cats prior to and following intraperitoneal inoculation with feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). By 4 days post-inoculation, platelet samples from five of six cats responded with irreversible platelet aggregation to threshold concentrations of adenosine diphosphate (ADP). This was accompanied by enhanced platelet 14C-serotonin release (greater than 10%) in two cats. Compared to one of six baseline samples, five of five post-inoculation samples exhibited microaggregate formation in response to 20 microM epinephrine. Enhanced platelet 14C-serotonin release did not accompany these responses. Enhanced platelet responses to ADP and epinephrine were also observed on day 11 post-inoculation and day 16 (when one cat died) or 21 (the end of the study). Platelet 14C-serotonin release in response to 20 microM epinephrine increased markedly in three of five cats on day 21. Enhanced collagen-induced platelet responses were not demonstrated. Although the mechanism for the enhanced platelet responses observed on day 4 was unknown, a direct effect on the virus on platelets, mononuclear inflammatory cells, and endothelial cells must be considered.