Although moderate alcohol consumption seems to be protective against atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease rate increases with its higher doses. Platelet aggregation is an important process which contributes to the atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to determine whether heavy ethanol consumption stimulates or inhibits platelet aggregation. Fourteen adult male Wistar rats were used. Ethanol (7.2%, v/v) in a modified liquid diet was given to eight rats for 21 days, which mimicked characteristics similar to human chronic alcoholism. Six rats constituted the control group. Adenosine diphophate (ADP) and collagen-induced platelet aggregation was measured in whole blood. We found reduced ADP-induced mean maximal aggregation in the alcoholic rat group compared to the control group at dose of 5 mu M (p < 0.005). We also found decreased platelet aggregation responses to collagen in the alcoholic group (p < 0.006 for 2 mu g/ml collagen, and p < 0.05 for 5 mu g/ml collagen). In conclusion, chronic heavy ethanol consumption results in the decreased platelet aggregation in a rat model of alcoholism. Therefore, increased mortality from coronary artery disease in chronic alcoholism may be explained by other factors such as dietary imbalances and coexisting conditions, which include hypertension and depression. - alcohol consumption; platelet aggregation; coronary artery disease; dietary imbalances; cardiovascular protection (c) 2005 Tohoku University Medical Press.