Several of the adverse events that occur in acute coronary syndromes and after percutaneous coronary revascularization procedures are believed to be mediated by platelets. Recently, using molecular biology techniques, the platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor was identified as the final common pathway for platelet aggregation. Thus, blocking the action of this receptor would seem to be an attractive proposition for reducing ischemic complications. A monoclonal antibody was the first agent in this new pharmacological family to be designed, but several peptide and peptide-like substances have subsequently been developed. This paper reviews the development of this class of agents and the various preclinical and clinical trials that have been undertaken. Early studies evaluated such agents during percutaneous coronary revascularization procedures. Because of the overwhelming benefits observed in such patients, together with the current limitations of treatments for acute coronary syndromes, the scope of investigations has been extended. Preliminary reports have been encouraging.