Platelets play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and thus are logical therapeutic targets for treatment of this disease process. Platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists, which interrupt the final common pathway of platelet aggregation, have been proved to reduce the 30-day incidence of death, acute myocardial infarction (MI), and urgent revascularization in both high-risk and low-risk patients undergoing percutaneous intervention procedures. Three-year follow-up has indicated that these benefits appear durable. Recent large-scale randomized trials have demonstrated the value of GP IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors in reducing the risk of death and MI in patients with unstable angina or those with MI with non-Q-wave abnormalities who are receiving pharmacologic management. In addition, emerging evidence suggests a future role for GP IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors as an adjunct to low-dose fibrinolytic therapy in patients with acute MI. As the list of indications for GP IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists expands to encompass the full spectrum of ACS, there is increasing interest in the potential use of these agents in the emergency department setting. The integration of GP IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors into ED protocols will ultimately depend largely on whether these drugs prove to be safe and effective regardless of the direction of ST-segment deviation, and irrespective of whether definitive therapy will be invasive or conservative.