Platelets activated by various agonists produce vesicles (microparticles; MPs) from the plasma membrane. However, the mechanism of this MP formation remains to be elucidated. To investigate the possible involvement of protein phosphorylation and cytoskeletal reorganization in MP formation, the effects of various inhibitors on MP formation were investigated. Flow cytometry was employed to detect the amount of MP formation by using monoclonal antibodies against glycoprotein (GP) IIb-IIIa (NNKY 1-32) or GPIIb (Tab). The relationship between changes in cytoskeletal architecture and MP formation in the platelets activated by thrombin plus collagen was observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). MPs were observed in the vicinity of the terminals of pseudopods, suggesting that MPs may be related by budding of the pseudopods. Cytochalasin D (10 microM) inhibited MP formation from the activated platelets almost completely. Moreover, SEM of the cytochalasin D-treated platelets revealed the absence of shape change, pseudopod formation and MPs. These findings suggest that cytoskeletal reorganization is necessary for MP formation. Since cytoskeletal reorganization is considered to be regulated by a dynamic phosphorylation-dephosphorylation process, we investigated the effects of the protein phosphatase inhibitors, calyculin A (CLA) and okadaic acid (OA), on MP formation. Flow cytometry showed that these two inhibitors doubled MP formation in activated platelets. SEM of the platelets treated with CLA or OA demonstrated more prominent shape change and pseudopod formation in these platelets than in those without inhibitor. From these results, we conclude that cytoskeletal reorganization, which is controlled by phosphorylation, is involved in MP formation.