Platelet activation/aggregation in sickle cell disease (SCD) may promote tissue ischemia, suggesting that antiplatelet therapy may be useful. However, the assessment of platelet function and the effect of antiplatelet therapy in blood from SCD patients may be confounded by hemolysis with the release of adenosine 5'-diphosphate (ADP). Here we evaluate the levels of platelet activation markers in SCD adolescents vs. normal controls and compare, by multiple methods, the effect of in vitro blockade of the platelet ADP receptor P2Y₁₂ by prasugrel's active metabolite, R-138727. Platelet activation markers in blood from SCD adolescents (n = 15) and healthy adults (n = 10), and the effect of R-138727 (0.1-10 µM) added in vitro, were evaluated with and without ADP stimulation. The circulating levels of platelet-monocyte and platelet-neutrophil aggregates were significantly higher (p < 0.01) in SCD patients than in healthy controls. R-138727, in a concentration-dependent manner, inhibited platelet function in both SCD patients and healthy subjects as judged by ADP-stimulated light transmission aggregation, VerifyNow P2Y₁₂ assay, multiple electrode aggregometry, and flow cytometric analysis of platelet vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein, activated GPIIb-IIIa and P-selectin. The R-138727 IC₅₀s for each assay were not significantly different in SCD vs. healthy subjects. In summary: (1) The high circulating levels of platelet-monocyte and platelet-neutrophil aggregates demonstrate in vivo platelet activation in SCD and may be useful as markers of the in vivo pharmacodynamic efficacy of antiplatelet therapy in SCD. (2) The similar in vitro R-138727 IC50s in SCD and healthy subjects suggest that the prasugrel dose-dependence for platelet inhibition in SCD patients will be similar to that previously observed in healthy subjects.