Platelets play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction, and complications following percutaneous coronary intervention. Three classes of platelet-inhibiting drugs, aspirin, thienopyridines and platelet glycoprotein IIb/ IIIa inhibitors, are now commonly used for the prevention and treatment of disorders of coronary artery thrombosis. For the last several decades aspirin has been the sole option for antiplatelet therapy in the treatment and prevention of the manifestations of cardiovascular disease. However, a wider selection of antiplatelet agents, including the thienopyridines (ticlopidine and clopidogrel) and the platelet glycoprotein (GP)IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists, are now available and provide clinicians with the opportunity to potentially improve upon the previous gold standard of aspirin. This review summarizes these drugs and the scientific data that have led to their use in primary and secondary prevention, unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and percutaneous coronary intervention.