Aged garlic extract (AGE) has been shown previously to have moderate cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-reducing effects. We have now investigated whether platelet function, a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease, can be inhibited by AGE administration. In a randomized, double-blind study of normal healthy individuals (n = 34), both men and women, the effect of AGE was evaluated in doses between 2.4 and 7.2 g/d vs. equal amounts of placebo. Platelet aggregation and adhesion were measured at 2-wk intervals throughout the study. Threshold concentrations for epinephrine and collagen increased moderately during AGE administration compared with the placebo and baseline periods. Only at the highest supplementation level did AGE show a slight increase in the threshold level of ADP-induced aggregation. Platelet adhesion to collagen, fibrinogen and von Willebrand factor was investigated by perfusing whole blood through a laminar flow chamber under controlled flow conditions. Adherence of platelets was inhibited by AGE in a dose-dependent manner when collagen was the adhesive surface perfused at low shear rates ( approximately 30 s(-1)). At high shear rates (1200 s(-1)), AGE also inhibited platelet adhesion to collagen but only at higher intake levels. Adhesion to von Willebrand factor was reduced only at 7.2 g/d AGE, but adherence to fibrinogen was potently inhibited at all levels of supplementation. Thus, AGE exerts selective inhibition on platelet aggregation and adhesion, platelet functions that may be important for the development of cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. We briefly review the effect of garlic preparations in general on cardiovascular risk factors and point out differences between AGE and other garlic preparations that we feel are important to explain the efficacy of AGE.