Platelet-derived microparticles (MP) are reported to express both pro- and anticoagulant activities. Nevertheless, their functional significance has remained unresolved. The present study monitored the generation and fate of MP in an experimental model of thrombosis with costimulation of platelets by collagen and thrombin. When minimally anticoagulated (0.5 micromol/L PPACK) blood was perfused over immobilized fibrillar type I collagen in a flow chamber at a low shear rate (300 s(-1)), endogenous thrombin was generated, as evidenced by thrombin-antithrombin III complex. In contrast to full anticoagulation 150 micromol/L PPACK) and the absence of collagen, large platelet aggregates and fibrin ensued during perfusions over collagen in the presence of thrombin. In these thrombi, MP, defined as GPIIbIIIa- and P- selectin-positive vesicles (<1 micron), were found to align fibrin in immunofluorescence and scanning immunoelectron microscopy. Moreover, in sections of embolectomized thromboemboli from patients GPIIbIIIa- and P- selectin-positive material compatible with MP was detected in a fibrin strand-like pattern. In vitro binding studies showed that MP bound to fibrin and acted there as procoagulants. In summary, we show that MP generated during thrombus formation associate with local fibrin. This adhesive function fibrin could imply a sustained modulatory role for MP in evolving thrombi.