Platelet eicosanoid metabolism resulting from tumor-cell-induced platelet aggregation (TCIPA) was examined in a homologous in vitro system. Rat Walker 256 carcinosarcoma cells induced the aggregation of rat platelets via a thrombin-dependent mechanism with concomitant production of eicosanoid metabolites (e.g., 12-HETE, TXA2). TCIPA was dependent on the concentration of tumor cells inducing aggregation, as well as cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase products. Cyclooxygenase inhibitors, but not lipoxygenase inhibitors, blocked platelet aggregation induced in vitro by a low concentration of agonist. At a high agonist concentration, neither cyclooxygenase nor lipoxygenase inhibitors alone affected platelet aggregation; however, the combined inhibition of both the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways resulted in subsequent inhibition of platelet aggregation regardless of agonist concentration. The extent of platelet TXA2 and 12-HETE biosynthesis was likewise dependent on and correlated with agonist concentration. The inhibitors used in this study did not significantly inhibit protein kinase C activity at the doses tested. Platelet surface glycoprotein alpha IIb beta 3 play an important role in platelet aggregation. The effect of platelet cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase inhibition in regulating alpha IIb beta 3 surface expression was examined by flow cytometric analysis. Thrombin stimulation of washed rat platelets resulted in significantly increased surface expression of platelet alpha IIb beta 3 integrin complex. The enhanced surface expression was not inhibited by a cyclooxygenase inhibitor (aspirin), a thromboxane synthase inhibitor (CGS-14854) or a thromboxane receptor antagonist (SQ 29,548), nor was it stimulated by a thromboxane A2 mimic (pinane-thromboxane A2). However, alpha IIb beta 3 expression was blocked by lipoxygenase inhibition and stereospecifically increased by the platelet lipoxygenase metabolite 12(S)-HETE. These results suggest that both the platelet lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase pathways are important for TCIPA but that different mechanisms of action are involved.