The effects of lysolecithin (LPC) on aggregation, serotonin release, shape, and lysis of rabbit, pig, or human platelets in platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or Tyrode albumin solution were examined during prolonged incubation. LPC added to citrated or heparinized PRP from humans or rabbits at a final concentration above 100 muM caused instantaneous inhibition of platelet aggregation induced by adenosine diphosphate (ADP), epinephrine (human PRP only), collagen, or thrombin. The inhibitory effect of LPC was found to be partially reversible over a period of 60–90 min. LPC at final concentrations above 30 muM also caused inhibition of ADP-, collagen-, and thrombin-induced aggregation and collagen- and thrombin-induced release of serotonin in suspensions of rabbit, pig, or human platelets. With washed platelets, the inhibitory effect not only rapidly disappeared but was followed by transient potentiation of aggregation and serotonin release. This potentiating effect of LPC was most pronounced when thrombin was used as stimulus. Both inhibition and potentiation were observed at concentrations of LPC that did not cause a significant change in platelet shape or loss from platelets of lactic dehydrogenase. Inhibition and potentiation were also observed when platelets were added to suspending medium containing LPC, although considerably higher concentrations of LPC were required under these conditions. Potentiation was not observed when LPC was added to citrated or heparinized rabbit or human PRP or to washed rabbit platelets suspended in a medium containing 4% bovine serum albumin. It seemed likely that some or all of the observed effects of LPC on platelet function were due to structural modification of the platelet membrane insufficient to result in gross membrane damage or platelet lysis. In addition, the results of experiments using 14C-LPC seemed to indicate that the observed potentiating effect of LPC on platelet function may be related to its rapid uptake and metabolism by the platelets.