Red blood cells (RBC) contribute significantly to haemostasis and thrombosis under oscillatory flow conditions, and erythrocytosis has been associated with increased thrombotic risk. To measure the dynamic influences of RBC on platelets, we used a recently described cone and plate(let) analyzer (CPA), evaluating the effect of haematocrit (Hct) on platelet function in whole blood under arterial flow conditions (1800/s, 2 min, 25°C). Anticoagulated blood, reconstituted to varying haematocrits with autologous RBC, demonstrated a significant increase in adherent platelet aggregate formation at Hct levels >45%. This increase was not affected by pretreatment of blood with 0·05 mmol/l aspirin, but was prevented by antagonists of P2Y1, P2Y12, or P2X1, ADP and ATP receptors, and by converting exogenous ADP to ATP with creatine phosphate/creatine phosphokinase. As negligible platelet granule secretion was measured during CPA analysis, but metabolic inhibition of RBC with sodium azide or glutaraldehyde fixation inhibited erythrocytosis-enhanced increases in platelet aggregate size, adenine nucleotides contributing to shear-induced platelet aggregate formation appear to be derived from erythrocytes. These findings support the use of CPA for ex vivo evaluation of the contribution of RBC to platelet function and its inhibition under physiological shear conditions.