Circulating complexes of leukocytes and activated platelets are markers for atherosclerosis, but their interaction with the arterial endothelial lining has not been studied. Therefore, the effect of activated platelets on rolling and adhesion of labeled human THP-1 monocytoid cells to human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) monolayers was studied by epifluorescence microscopy in a parallel plate flow chamber. In the absence of activated platelets, THP-1 rolling on resting HUVEC was negligible at shear rates greater than 300 s(-1). Activation of HUVEC with 100 nmol/L phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) increased THP-1 cell adhesion at shear rates less than 400 s(-1). Therefore, a shear rate of 400 s(-1) was identified as a threshold for THP-1 adhesion. THP-1 rolling on activated HUVEC was reduced by 64% after L-selectin inhibition but was not affected by P-selectin inhibition. The addition of 1 to 50 thrombin receptor-activating peptide (TRAP)-activated platelets per THP-1 cell enhanced interactions between THP-1 cells and HUVEC, resulting in a steep bell-shaped dose-response curve, with a peak of 10 +/- 3 rolling cells/50 seconds at 3 platelets per THP-1 cell (P <.01 v control) with a concomitant 2- to 3-fold increase of firmly adhering cells (P <.01 v control). In reconstituted blood, low numbers of activated platelets had the same effect on THP-1 rolling and adhesion. P-selectin inhibition reduced platelet/THP-1 cell interaction in suspension and deposition of the complexes on the endothelial monolayer. Inhibition of both P- and L-selectin reduced THP-1/HUVEC interactions to 14% (P <.01, n = 4). Sialidase digestion and removal of terminal sialic acid residues from HUVEC or THP-1 cells but not from platelets abolished the platelet mediated augmentation of THP-1 cell adhesion. Thus, THP-1 rolling on HUVEC is shear-dependent and largely mediated by L-selectin. P-selectin expressed on activated platelets increases monocytoid cell adhesion to endothelial cells at shear rates found in coronary arteries through interactions with both endothelial and monocytoid cells and may facilitate macrophage accumulation in the vessel wall.