In a group of 6 patients with lupus anticoagulant (LA) and antiphospholipid (aPL) antibodies detected by ELISA overnight urine and blood were simultaneously collected. A significantly increased urinary excretion of the platelet-derived thromboxane (TX) metabolite 11-dehydro-TXB2 was found in this group, as compared to 12 healthy individuals. In contrast, a small but significant reduction of the vascular prostacyclin (PGI2) metabolite 2,3-dinor-6-keto-prostaglandin F1 alpha was observed. To further elucidate the effect of these antibodies on platelet activation we isolated the F(ab')2 fragments from IgG of the 6 patients and 5 controls, and we evaluated the effect of these fragments on the responses of isolated normal platelets to thrombin. Patients' F(ab')2 increased platelet aggregation and serotonin release of platelets stimulated by low dose thrombin (0.01 U/ml). At threshold thrombin concentration (0.05 U/ml) an enhanced TXB2 production was also observed. In summary, our results show, in addition to the altered TXA2/PGI2 balance observed in vivo, a direct stimulatory effect of aPL antibodies on platelet activation in vitro. This effect is related to recognition of phospholipid epitopes on platelets as shown by its neutralization upon preincubation with phospholipids. This phenomenon may be relevant for the thrombotic tendency of these patients.