Platelets play an important role in the inflammatory response. In a nonrandomized comparison, we examined the effect of clopidogrel pretreatment on platelet inflammatory marker expression in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Platelet expression of the inflammatory markers CD40 ligand (L) and CD62 P-selectin (P) and serum levels of interleukin-6 and CD40L were compared in patients pretreated (>24 hours before PCI) or not pretreated with clopidogrel. Blood samples were obtained before and after the procedure, and from 18 to 24 hours later. Marker expression in resting and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) (50 micromol/L) and thrombin receptor activating peptide (TRAP) (10 micromol/L) activated samples was quantified by flow cytometry. Serum CD40L and interleukin (IL)-6 levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Seventy-nine patients were recruited into the study. Forty-two percent were pretreated with clopidogrel for a median of 5 days (range 1 to 1,325). Clopidogrel pretreatment was associated with lower ADP-activated platelet CD40L expression in baseline and postprocedural samples. Similarly, platelet CD62P expression at all time points in ADP-activated and in baseline and postprocedural TRAP-activated samples was lower in patients pretreated with clopidogrel. These differences remained after multivariate adjustment between the groups. Serum CD40L levels increased from 2.13 +/- 2.37 ng/ml at baseline to 4.77 +/- 3.86 ng/ml at 18 to 24 hours after the procedure (p <0.0001). Similarly, serum IL-6 levels increased at 18 to 24 hours after the procedure (14.8 +/- 42.0 pg/ml before vs 25.5 +/- 36.0 pg/ml at 18 to 24 hours after the procedure, p <0.0001). Clopidogrel pretreatment did not affect serum IL-6 or CD40L levels. Thus, clopidogrel pretreatment reduces platelet inflammatory marker expression in patients undergoing PCI.