Platelet activation state changes by exercise. The effect of exercise time on platelet activation state and formation of platelet-neutrophil aggregates are not known yet. In this study the effect of exercise and time of day were examined on platelet activity with platelet-neutrophil aggregates. Ten moderately active males aged 27 +/- 1.63 (mean +/- S.D.) years completed sub-maximal (70% VO2max) exercise trials for 30 min. Blood pressure (BP) was recorded. Venous blood samples were obtained at rest, immediately post-exercise and after 30 min of recovery. Whole blood was analysed for haematocrit (Hct), haemoglobin (Hb), platelet count (PC), mean platelet count (MPV) and platelet aggregation (PA). Platelet-neutrophil aggregates and beta-thromboglobulin (beta-TG) levels were assayed. Platelet count showed significant increase after morning exercise ((236 +/- 32)x10(9) l(-1) versus (202 +/- 34)x10(9) l(-1) baseline, p < 0.05). Exercise resulted in significantly lower MPV after the evening exercise (9.16 +/- 0.5 fl versus 9.65 +/- 0.36 fl, p < 0.05). Platelet aggregation by adenosine diphosphate (ADP) decreased after morning exercise and the recovery aggregation levels were significantly different at two different times of the day (68 +/- 20% a.m. versus 80 +/- 12% p.m., p < 0.05). It was also showed that platelet-neutrophil aggregates increased significantly from baseline after both exercises. Exercise-induced platelet-neutrophil aggregates were higher in the evening (10.7 +/- 1.3% p.m. versus 6.4 +/- 1.8% a.m., p < 0.0001). It is therefore concluded that besides platelet-platelet aggregation, exercise can cause platelet- neutrophil aggregates. In addition, time of day has an effect on platelet activation related events. Circadian variations of physiological parameters may have an effect on thrombus formation by platelet activation.