A number of peripheral indices of serotonergic function were examined in endurance-trained (ET) and sedentary males using the blood platelet as a model of the serotonergic neurone. The aim of the study was to investigate possible involvement and adaptation of the central serotonergic system in exercise-induced fatigue. The [3H] paroxetine-defined density of platelet serotonin transporters, platelet serotonin content and the plasma concentration of amino acids were determined in 10 ET and eight sedentary males. The mean (standard deviation) density of the serotonin transporter in the platelet membranes of the ET subjects was greater [1237 (182) fmol mg protein-1] than that of the sedentary subjects [910 (119) fmol mg protein-1; P = 0.013]. No difference (P = 0.51) could be seen between the median (range) platelet serotonin content of the ET subjects [0.98 (0.37-3.04) nmol platelet-10] and that of the sedentary subjects [0.82 (0.18-1.49) nmol platelet-10]. The platelet poor plasma concentrations of tryptophan and tyrosine were lower in the ET subjects (P = 0.028 and 0.015, respectively). The present study suggests that the platelet membrane of the ET subjects has a greater density of the serotonin transporter and that this is inversely related to the circulating concentration of the serotonin precursor, tryptophan. It remains to be resolved whether the increase in serotonin transporter density in the platelet membrane of ET subjects is reflected centrally and whether the ET platelet population may be sufficiently different from that of sedentary individuals to alter serotonin transporter density.