The effects of ethanol on platelets from rabbits with two different types of hypercholesterolemia, diet-induced and genetically determined, were investigated. There were no differences between the hypercholesterolemic groups and their controls in the extent of (primary) ADP-induced aggregation of washed platelets, and this aggregation was not inhibited by ethanol. Platelets from cholesterol-fed rabbits were more sensitive to aggregation and secretion induced by collagen, whereas platelets from Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits were less sensitive. Ethanol inhibited collagen-induced responses of platelets from both hypercholesterolemic groups, but the extent of inhibition of aggregation was not different compared with controls. Because ethanol did not affect U46619-induced responses of aspirin-treated platelets, ethanol does not inhibit aggregation and secretion stimulated by collagen via an effect on thromboxane A2 (TxA2)-induced responses. Platelets from cholesterol-fed rabbits were more sensitive to thrombin even when TxA2 formation was blocked by aspirin, and inhibition of aggregation by ethanol was less in cholesterol-fed rabbits than in controls. However, neither the extent of thrombin-induced responses nor the inhibitory effect of ethanol was different in platelets from WHHL rabbits compared with controls. Thus, different etiologies of hypercholesterolemia produce different changes in platelet function, and ethanol has different effects on the platelets from cholesterol-fed rabbits compared with the platelets from WHHL rabbits. The inhibitory effect of ethanol on the thrombin-induced aggregation of platelets from cholesterol-fed rabbits is attenuated compared with controls, and this finding contrasts with the reported greater inhibitory effect of ethanol on platelets enriched with saturated fats.