Anti-human platelet p24/CD9 (p24/monoclonal antibody 7) causes the activation of platelets and in the presence of calcium induces platelet aggregation. Our studies suggest that platelet response to this antibody is mediated at least in part by the pertussis toxin-sensitive guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins) that stimulate phosphoinositide hydrolysis and inhibit adenylate cyclase. Prior exposure of saponin-treated platelets to anti-p24/CD9 inhibited the [32P] ADP-ribosylation of the alpha 41 protein by pertussis toxin. Platelet aggregation induced by this antibody is preceded by and/or accompanied by accelerated phosphatidylinositol turnover, the generation of inositol phosphates and diacylglycerol (DAG), calcium mobilization, and protein phosphorylation. The production of inositol phosphate(s) was measurable within 15 s of either anti-p24/CD9 or thrombin addition. Within 10 s of antibody addition (10 micrograms/ml), the level of DAG was 200% over that of the control and similar to that observed with 2 units/ml thrombin (201% over that of the control). Therefore, as it appears to be true for thrombin, platelet response upon binding of anti-p24/CD9 is primarily mediated by the activation of phospholipase C. When platelets pretreated with aspirin (200 microM) and apyrase (1 mg/ml) were subsequently exposed to anti-p24/CD9, aggregation still occurred. This indicates that neither secreted ADP nor thromboxane generation is required for this aggregation response. Using indo-1 and ratio cytofluorometry, we observed that an increase in platelet cytosolic calcium is a relatively early event and occurs in either the presence or absence of calcium in the external media. Phosphorylation studies of platelet proteins showed that anti-p24/CD9 binding to platelets caused increased phosphorylation of four proteins with apparent molecular masses of 50,000, 47,000, 36,000, and 20,000 daltons. These studies suggest that platelet activation mediated by the surface protein p24/CD9 is mainly through the stimulation of a phospholipase C, the activation of which is responsible for the generation of second messengers inositol trisphosphate and DAG.