Summary. After rupture of an arteriosclerotic plaque in a coronary artery, platelets play a crucial role in the subsequent thrombus formation, leading to myocardial infarction. An increased mean platelet volume (MPV), as an indicator of larger, more reactive platelets, may represent a risk factor for myocardial infarction. However, this hypothesis is still controversial and most studies addressing the role of MPV were performed comparing patients suffering from myocardial infarction with healthy controls. We intended to identify patients at high risk of suffering myocardial infarction in a group of patients with known coronary artery disease. One hundred and eighty-five consecutive patients with stable coronary artery disease were compared with 188 individuals who had suffered myocardial infarction. Patients within the highest quintile of MPV (≥ 11·6 fl) had a significantly higher risk of experiencing a myocardial infarction compared with patients within the lowest quintile (OR = 2·6, 95% CI 1·3–5·1) in a multivariate analysis that included sex, age, body mass index, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, smoking and diabetes mellitus. Our results indicate that patients with pre-existing coronary artery disease and an increased MPV (≥ 11·6 fl) are at higher risk of myocardial infarction. These patients can be easily identified during routine haematological analysis and could possibly benefit from preventive treatment.