The effect of pacing-induced myocardial ischemia on platelet activation and fibrin formation was investigated in seven patients with severe proximal lesions of the left anterior descending coronary artery to determine if acute ischemia activates the coagulation system. Fibrin formation was assessed from plasma levels of fibrinopeptide A. Platelet activation was assessed by levels of platelet factor 4, beta-thromboglobulin and thromboxane B 2. Plasma levels were measured before, during and after acute myocardial ischemia induced by rapid atrial pacing. Blood samples were collected from the ascending aorta and from the great cardiac vein through heparinbonded catheters. The occurrence of anterior myocardial ischemia was established by electrocardiography and by myocardial lactate extraction. No significant transmyocardial gradients in the levels of fibrinopeptide A, platelet factor 4, beta-thrombo-globulin or thromboxane B 2 were found at rest, during ischemia or in the recovery period, and levels in the great cardiac vein did not change in response to ischemia. These data indicate that pacing-induced myocardial ischemia does not result in release of fibrinopeptide A, platelet factor 4, beta-thromboglobulin or thromboxane B 2 into the coronary circulation, and imply that acute ischemia does not induce platelet activation or fibrin formation in the coronary circulation.