Nine healthy young (27.8 +/- 0.8 yr old, YM) and nine healthy older men (55.4 +/- 1.3 yr old, OM) ran on a treadmill at 70-75% of maximal O2 consumption for 30 min to determine the combined effects of age and acute exercise on plasma thromboxane B2 (TxB2) and beta-thromboglobulin (beta-TG). Blood samples (10 ml) were collected in tubes containing 0.5 ml of 4.5 mM EDTA, 30 mM acetylsalicylic acid, and 1 microM prostaglandin E1 after 15 min of rest, immediately after exercise, and at 30 min of recovery. Concentrations of TxB2 and beta-TG were determined by radioimmunoassay. Samples were adjusted for hemoconcentration and changes in platelet count not accounted for by plasma volume shifts. Data were analyzed with repeated-measures analysis of variance and Tukey's post hoc technique. Resting TxB2 was 53.3 +/- 9.6 and 79.0 +/- 18.2 pg/ml for the YM and OM, respectively. beta-TG at rest was 152.5 +/- 13.9 and 114.0 +/- 10.9 ng/ml for the YM and OM, respectively. No significant age group or exercise-induced differences for TxB2 or beta-TG were found immediately after exercise. TxB2 in the OM (101.7 +/- 16.4 pg/ml) 30 min after exercise was significantly (P = 0.05) higher than that in the YM (54.4 +/- 6.2 pg/ml). beta-TG values 30 min after exercise were not significantly different: 183.3 +/- 26.9 and 169.9 +/- 17.0 ng/ml in the OM and YM, respectively. These data suggest that OM may experience greater increases in TxB2 than YM 30 min after exercise and may be more predisposed to platelet activation.