Platelets are capable of producing nitric oxide (NO) through the L-arginine-NO synthase pathway. Acute exposure to supraphysiological concentrations of L-arginine in vitro increases the production of NO by platelets and is associated with an increase in platelet cyclic GMP (cGMP) levels and a reduction in platelet aggregation. The purpose of this study was to determine if chronic oral administration of L-arginine decreases platelet aggregation in hypercholesterolemic animals and to determine if this effect is mediated by the metabolism of L-arginine to NO. Male New Zealand White rabbits were fed normal chow (Con), a 1% cholesterol diet (Chol), or a 1% cholesterol diet supplemented with a sixfold enrichment of dietary L-arginine (Arg) or L-methionine (Met). After 10 weeks, cholesterol levels were equally increased in Chol and Arg animals, whereas plasma arginine levels were doubled in the Arg group. There was no difference in maximum aggregation initiated by ADP (100 mumol/L) between washed platelets from Con, Met, and Chol animals, but aggregation of platelets from Arg animals was significantly decreased (P < .05). In aggregating platelets from Arg animals, cGMP levels were significantly higher than the other groups (P < .05). When platelets were incubated ex vivo with the NO synthase inhibitor NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, the effects of dietary L-arginine were reversed. Chronic dietary supplementation of L-arginine decreases platelet aggregation in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. This effect appears to be due to the metabolism of L-arginine to NO.