Bovine serum albumin bound 14C-palmitic acid (BSA-14C-PA) is transported into platelets of normal and cirrhotic subjects by simple diffusion. Initial uptake increases linearly with the concentration of BSA-14C-PA in the medium. The time course accumulation of BSA-14C-PA is found to be higher in the platelets of patients with cirrhosis compared to that of normals. At 50-min incubation, the amount of 14C-PA accumulated in the platelets of cirrhotic subjects is 52.43 +/- 7.40 nmol/10(9) platelets and in the platelets of normal controls it is 22.71 +/- 3.14 nmol/10(9) platelets. The diffusion rate of BSA-14C-PA is also higher in the platelets of cirrhotic patients where the slope of the concentration dependency curve for 10(9) platelets at 30 sec is 56.0 +/- 4.8 X 10(-4) liters. This value is 21.6 +/- 2.4 X 10(-4) liters for normal subjects.