There is mounting evidence that antioxidants may help to prevent coronary heart disease and modulate some thrombotic events such a platelet adhesion. However, the effects of antioxidant supplementation on platelet function in vivo are controversial. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study was performed on 40 healthy volunteers (20-50 years) supplemented daily with vitamin E (300 mg), vitamin C (250 mg) or beta-carotene (15 mg) for 8 weeks. Platelet function was assessed by platelet aggregation induced by ADP, arachidonic acid or collagen, platelet responsiveness to the inhibitor PGE1, beta-thromboglobulin release and ATP secretion. Supplementation with vitamin E resulted in a significant increase in platelet alpha-tocopherol level (+68%) reflecting closely the increase in plasma alpha-tocopherol level (+69%). Platelet function was significantly decreased by vitamin E as revealed by the decreased platelet aggregation in response to ADP and arachidonic acid, the increased sensitivity to inhibition by PGE1, the decreased plasma beta-thromboglobulin concentration and the decreased ATP secretion. Supplementation with vitamin C did not affect platelet function significantly although a trend towards a decreased platelet aggregability and an increased sensitivity to the inhibitor PGE1 were observed. No significant changes in platelet function occurred after supplementation with beta-carotene. In conclusion, supplementation of healthy volunteers with vitamin E decreased platelet function whereas supplementation with vitamin C or beta-carotene had no significant effects.