Epidemiological studies of populations living in areas of low magnesium (Mg) intake have consistently shown a higher cardiovascular morbidity. Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain the cardioprotective properties of magnesium. Few studies, however, have analysed the relation of magnesium to haemostasis. The overall purpose of this project was to assess the association between certain haemostatic variables and magnesium deficiency. This experiment was designed to assess the effect of magnesium deficiency on various haemostatic variables which may relate to cardiovascular morbidity. Twelve female Yorkshire swine were fed for seven weeks on an Mg-sufficient or an Mg-deficient diet. Blood samples were obtained at baseline and after the termination of feeding in order to evaluate platelet aggregability and concentrations of antithrombin-III (AT-III), protein C, total protein S, fibronectin, endothelin-1 (ET-1), as well as the stable metabolites of thromboxane (TxB2) and prostacyclin (6-keto-PGF1 alpha). In animals on an Mg-sufficient diet, there were no significant differences in any of the investigated haemostatic variables. In the Mg-deficient group, a significant decrease in serum magnesium was noted after the feeding period (from 2.0 +/- 0.1 to 1.3 +/- 0.1; P < 0.01). Mg-deficient swine showed significant increases in ADP-induced (33.3 per cent and 59.6 per cent) and collagen-induced (36.6 per cent) platelet aggregation, and decreased plasma antithrombin-III (17.7 per cent) and protein S (14.4 per cent) when compared to baseline. Plasma concentrations of TxB2 (28.7 per cent), protein C (57.2 per cent), and ET-1 (74.9 per cent) were dramatically increased. There were no significant differences in plasma fibronectin and 6-keto-PGF1 alpha levels in the magnesium-depleted animals. We conclude that magnesium deficiency is associated with significant proaggregatory and coagulation alterations. This may contribute to the increased cardiovascular morbidity found in magnesium-deficient populations. The beneficial effects of magnesium supplementation in an expanding array of clinical conditions including cardiovascular disease may, in part, be related to the improved haemostatic profile in such patients.