The relative roles of platelet autacoids such as adenosine diphosphate (ADP), prostaglandin endoperoxides, and thromboxane A2 (TXA2) in collagen-induced platelet activation are not fully understood. We reexamined this relationship using the ADP affinity analogue, 5'-p- fluorosulfonylbenzoyl adenosine (FSBA), which covalently modifies a receptor for ADP on the platelet surface, thereby inhibiting ADP- induced platelet activation. Collagen-induced shape change, aggregation, and fibrinogen binding were each fully inhibited under conditions in which FSBA is covalently incorporated and could not be overcome by raising the collagen used to supramaximal concentrations. In contrast, TXA2 synthesis stimulated by collagen under conditions that produced maximum aggregation was only minimally inhibited by FSBA. Since covalent incorporation of FSBA has been previously shown to specifically inhibit ADP-induced activation of platelets, the present study supports the contention that ADP is required for collagen-induced platelet activation. Under similar conditions, indomethacin, an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase, inhibited collagen-induced shape change, indicating that endoperoxides and/or TXA2 also play a role in this response. Shape change induced by low concentrations (10 nmol/L) of the stable prostaglandin endoperoxide, azo-PGH2, was also inhibited by FSBA. These observations indicate a role for ADP in responses elicited by low concentrations of endoperoxides. However, at higher concentrations of azo-PGH2 (100 nmol/L), inhibition by FSBA could be overcome. Thus, the effect of collagen apparently has an absolute requirement for ADP for aggregation and fibrinogen binding and for both ADP and prostaglandins for shape change. Aggregation and fibrinogen binding induced by prostaglandin endoperoxides also required ADP as a mediator, but ADP is not absolutely required at high endoperoxide concentration to induce shape change.