Aspirin inhibits platelet function by acetylating platelet cyclooxygenase. Recent clinical trials indicate that aspirin is a promising antithrombotic agent against both venous and arterial thrombosis, but somewhat surprisingly this protective effect appears to be limited to males. To examine the potential sex-related differences in response to aspirin, we developed an animal model for quantitating fibrin accretion into an injury-induced thrombus and used it to study the effects of aspirin on thrombus size in male and female rabbits. Platelet prostaglandin synthesis was estimated by assay of platelet malondialdehyde and was significantly decreased in both male and female rabbits following treatment with 10 mg/kg aspirin (p less than 0.001). This inhibitory effect was not different for platelets from male and female rabbits. Thrombus size was significantly decreased in aspirin- treated male rabbits when compared to controls (p less than 0.05), but this aspirin effect was not apparent in female rabbits or rabbits of either sex treated with 10 mg/kg sodium salicylate. These findings support the results of clinical trials that were obtained by retrospective subgroup analysis. The reason for the sex difference is not known, but the findings raise an important issue in relationship to this mechanism of the antithrombotic effect of aspirin.