Clopidogrel is a thienopyridine that irreversibly inhibits platelet aggregation by selectively binding to adenylate cyclase-coupled ADP receptors on the platelet surface. In animal models, clopidogrel reduced the formation of both arterial and venous thrombi. After oral administration, clopidogrel is rapidly absorbed and undergoes metabolic activation in the liver. The principal circulating metabolite is SR 26334, an inactive carboxylic acid derivative. The active metabolite is not yet known. Findings of a large, well controlled study of clopidogrel versus aspirin in patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease (CAPRIE study) indicate that clopidogrel has superior efficacy in terms of prevention of ischaemic stroke, myocardial infarction and vascular death. Clopidogrel-treated patients experienced less frequent gastrointestinal upset, abnormal liver function and gastrointestinal haemorrhage than patients who received aspirin, but more frequent rash and diarrhoea. Neutropenia and thrombocytopenia occurred rarely and at similar rates in both groups.