An increased sensitivity of platelets to aggregation from ADP and epinephrine is described in diabetics with or without vascular disease. This sensitivity correlates with elevated levels on von Willebrand factor (vWF), which, in turn appears to be influenced by growth hormone. VWF activity correlates with previously described "plasma factor" activity. Platelets from diabetic subjects are more sensitive than platelets from normal subjects to arachidonic acid-induced aggregation. This sensitivity is abolished by aspirin, which is a prostaglandin synthetase (cyclo-oxygenase) inhibitor. Platelets from diabetc subjects synthesize increased amounts of PGE2-like material (iPGE) in response to ADP, epinephrine, collagen, and arachidonic acid. The latter finding suggests that a fundamental mechanism for increased platelet aggregation in diabetes is increased prostaglandin synthetase activity. Therapeutic endeavors that would lower growth hormone levels, vWF activity, and/or prostaglandin synthetase activity may be of benefit in the prophylaxis of diabetic vascular disease. Prospective studies are needed to explore these hypothesis, as are more studies on the precise mechanisms and platelet aggregation in diabetes mellitus.