We studied three patients with cyclic thrombocytopenia which occurred in phase with the menstrual cycle. The platelet count in each patient reached a nadir of 5-20 x 10(9)/l at the onset of menses. Thrombocytopenia was associated with bruising, epistaxis and menorrhagia and was followed 5-14 d later by normal or elevated platelet counts (up to 900 x 10(9)/l). Repeat bone marrow examinations performed at the time of reduced platelet counts showed megakaryocytic hyperplasia. 111In-platelet-disappearance from the circulation was measured in one patient; T50, time to half activity, was shortened to 0.7 d during the period of thrombocytopenia and was prolonged to 3.2 d when the platelet count increased (normal platelet T50 is about 4.8 d). In two of three patients platelet-associated anti-glycoprotein Ib autoantibodies were present and remained elevated despite normalization of the platelet count. In both of two patients the decrease in platelet count at the onset of menses was associated with an increase in the expression of monocyte Fc gamma receptors. Based on the reported capacity of oestrogenic hormones to modulate macrophage Fc gamma receptor expression, we propose that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may alter the Fc gamma receptor-mediated clearance of antibody-coated platelets by macrophages, modulate platelet survival, and cause cyclic thrombocytopenia.