This study was designed to clarify discrepancies in the literature concerning platelet survival time and beta-thromboglobulin (beta TG) levels in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and the effect of platelet-suppressant drugs on these tests. Platelet survival time and plasma beta TG levels were determined in 48 patients with angiographically documented CAD. The effect of sulfinpyrazone or aspirin/dipyridamole on these measurements was investigated in a double-blind, crossover trial that included a placebo phase. In patients with CAD, the mean plasma beta TG concentration was significantly elevated, but the mean platelet survival time was not significantly different from that in controls. Treatment with sulfinpyrazone or aspirin/dipyridamole did not produce changes in platelet survival time or plasma beta TG concentration that were significantly different from the values during the placebo phase. This study demonstrates that compared with the spontaneous variation in platelet survival time or beta TG concentration, there was no measureable effect of sulfinpyrazone or aspirin/dipyridamole on the results of the tests.