Platelet activation is central to the pathogenesis of hemostasis and arterial thrombosis. Platelet aggregation plays a major role in acute coronary artery diseases, myocardial infarction, unstable angina, and stroke. ADP is the first known and an important agonist for platelet aggregation. ADP not only causes primary aggregation of platelets but is also responsible for the secondary aggregation induced by ADP and other agonists. ADP also induces platelet shape change, secretion from storage granules, influx and intracellular mobilization of Ca2+, and inhibition of stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity. The ADP-receptor protein mediating ADP-induced platelet responses has neither been purified nor cloned. Therefore, signal transduction mechanisms underlying ADP-induced platelet responses either remain uncertain or less well understood. Recent contributions from chemists, biochemists, cell biologists, pharmacologists, molecular biologists, and clinical investigators have added considerably to and enhanced our knowledge of ADP-induced platelet responses. Although considerable efforts have been directed toward identifying and cloning the ADP-receptor, these have not been completely successful or without controversy. Considerable progress has been made toward understanding the mechanisms of ADP-induced platelet responses but disagreements persist. New drugs that do not mimic ADP have been found to inhibit fairly selectively ADP-induced platelet activation ex vivo. Drugs that mimic ADP and selectively act at the platelet ADP-receptor have been designed, synthesized, and evaluated for their therapeutic efficacy to block selectively ADP-induced platelet responses. This review examines in detail the developments that have taken place to identify the ADP-receptor protein and to better understand mechanisms underlying ADP-induced platelet responses to develop strategies for designing innovative drugs that block ADP-induced platelet responses by acting selectively at the ADP-receptor and/or by selectively interfering with components of ADP-induced platelet activation mechanisms.