Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its stable analog, alpha,beta-methylene ATP, activate the platelet P2X(1) ion channel, causing a rapid Ca(++) influx. Here, we show that, in washed apyrase-treated platelets, alpha,beta-methylene ATP elicits reversible extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) phosphorylation through a Ca(++)- and protein kinase C-dependent pathway. In contrast, high-performance liquid chromatography-purified adenosine diphosphate (ADP) did not trigger ERK2 phosphorylation. alpha,beta-Methylene ATP also activated the ERK2 pathway in P2X(1)-transfected HEK293 cells but not in cells expressing mutated P2X(1)delL nonfunctional channels. Because ATP released from the dense granules during platelet activation contributes to platelet aggregation elicited by low doses of collagen, and because collagen causes ERK2 phosphorylation, we have investigated the role of P2X(1)-mediated ERK2 activation in these platelet responses. We found that the antagonism of P2X(1) with ADP or desensitization of this ion channel with alpha,beta-methylene ATP both resulted in impaired ERK2 phosphorylation, ATP secretion, and platelet aggregation induced by low concentrations of collagen (< or = 1 microg/mL) without affecting the minor early dense granule release. Selective MEK1/2 inhibition by U-0126 and Ca(++) chelation with EGTA (ethyleneglycoltetraacetic acid) behaved similarly, whereas the PKC inhibitor GF109203-X totally prevented collagen-induced secretion and ERK2 activation. In contrast, when elicited by high collagen concentrations (2 microg/mL), platelet aggregation and secretion no longer depended on P2X(1) or ERK2 activation, as shown by the lack of their inhibition by alpha,beta-methylene ATP or U-0126. We thus conclude that mild platelet stimulation with collagen rapidly releases ATP, which activates the P2X(1)-PKC-ERK2 pathway. This process enhances further degranulation of the collagen-primed granules allowing platelet aggregation to be completed.