The hypotension and bradycardia observed after intravenous injection of dextran sulfate in rabbits was prevented by prior depletion of circulating platelets, but was not prevented by depletion of the third component of complement or Hageman factor. Dextran sulfate injection caused immediate thrombocytopenia with temporary localization of platelets within lungs. Morphological analysis revealed platelet aggregates in lung capillaries. The platelets had changed shape and were in the process of degranulating. Serotonin and histamine levels in blood increased approximately 5-fold and 7-fold, respectively, after dextran sulfate injection. The cardiovascular events following dextran sulfate injection were mimicked by intravenous serotonin but not by intravenous histamine injection, although a combination of serotonin and histamine reproduced the pattern of blood pressure changes better than did either agent alone. Quantification of platelets trapped in lung revealed that the potential release of serotonin from trapped platelets could account for the rise in plasma serotonin concentration and the hemodynamic changes observed. Both the dextran sulfate-induced cardiovascular effects and serotonin-induced hypotension were markedly diminished by cutting vagus and depressor nerves, and were virtually abolished by carotid ligation in addition to nerve section. These results support the concept that platelet activation within rabbit lungs may cause hypotension via serotonin-induced chemoreflexes.