To examine the role of antiplatelet therapy in the prevention of arterial restenosis after percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 376 patients. The active treatment consisted of an oral aspirin-dipyridamole combination (330 mg-75 mg) given three times daily, beginning 24 hours before PTCA. Eight hours before PTCA, the oral dipyridamole was replaced with intravenous dipyridamole at a dosage of 10 mg per hour for 24 hours, and oral aspirin was continued. Sixteen hours after PTCA, the initial combination was reinstituted. Treatment was continued in patients with a successfully dilated vessel until follow-up angiography four to seven months after PTCA--or earlier, if symptoms dictated. Of 249 patients who underwent follow-up angiography, 37.7 percent of patients receiving the active drug had restenosis in at least one segment, as compared with 38.6 percent of patients taking placebo (P not significant). The number of stenotic segments was virtually the same in the two groups. Among the 376 randomized patients, there were 16 periprocedural Q-wave myocardial infarctions--13 in the placebo group and 3 in the active-drug group (6.9 percent vs. 1.6 percent, P = 0.0113). Although the use of this antiplatelet regimen before and after PTCA did not reduce the six-month rate of restenosis after successful coronary angioplasty, it markedly reduced the incidence of transmural myocardial infarction during or soon after PTCA. Thus, the short-term use of antiplatelet agents in relation to PTCA can be recommended.