Cardiopulmonary bypass activates and depletes platelets, which may contribute to postoperative bleeding. In addition, activated platelets may be deposited in the coronary vasculature after ischemia and cardioplegia, which may delay recovery of cardiac function and metabolism and may contribute to early bypass graft occlusion. The antiplatelet agent dipyridamole reduces platelet activation and depletion and may decrease postoperative bleeding and transfusion requirements. A prospective randomized trial was conducted in 58 patients undergoing elective coronary bypass operations to compare the effects of oral (19 patients) and intravenous (21 patients) dipyridamole to the results obtained in a control group (18 patients) who received no dipyridamole. Preoperative oral administration of dipyridamole resulted in lower plasma drug concentrations in the early postoperative period than perioperative intravenous administration (p = 0.0001 by analysis of variance). Postoperative arterial platelet counts were highest in the patients receiving intravenous dipyridamole, intermediate in those receiving oral dipyridamole, and lowest in the control group (p = 0.03 by analysis of variance). Postoperative blood loss and blood product transfusions were significantly reduced with both oral and intravenous dipyridamole (p = 0.04 by analysis of variance). Dipyridamole preserved platelets and reduced postoperative bleeding. Intravenous dipyridamole resulted in higher platelet counts than oral dipyridamole and may be required to reduce postoperative bleeding in high-risk patients.