Suspensions of washed human platelets express IL-1 activity after activation with agents such as thrombin, collagen, ADP, or epinephrine as judged by the ability of the platelet suspensions to support the growth of a T cell line, D10.G4.1, which exhibits a growth requirement for IL-1. Unactivated platelets express little IL-1 activity. The IL-1 activity expressed by activated platelets appears to be entirely associated with the platelet surface. No IL-1 activity was detected in supernatants derived from suspensions of activated platelets. A mAb specific for IL-1 beta inhibited 90% of the activity expressed by thrombin-activated platelets, whereas a mAb specific for IL-1 alpha inhibited approximately 20% of the activity. A control mAb was without an effect. These results indicate that activated platelets express surface-associated IL-1 activity. Platelet surface IL-1 may provide a mechanism for altering in an extremely localized and rapid manner the properties of IL-1 responsive cells with which platelets come in direct contact during processes of inflammation and vessel wall damage.