Increased mean platelet volume (MPV) has been suggested as an independent risk factor for acute myocardial infarction and the increased reactivity of large platelets. The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between platelet phospholipid (PL) PUFA composition and MPV in 139 free-living healthy men ages 20-55 yr (vegans, n = 18; ovolacto vegetarians, n = 43; moderate meat-eaters, n = 60; and high meat-eaters, n = 18). Each subject completed a semiquantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire and gave a blood sample. Platelet PL FA composition and MPV were determined by standard methods. MPV was significantly greater in the vegans than in the ovolacto vegetarian, moderate, or high meat-eater groups (P< 0.01). Both vegan and ovolacto vegetarian groups had significantly higher platelet PL 18:2n-6 and 22:4n-6, and lower 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3 compared with the moderate and high meat-eater groups. The vegans demonstrated a significant reduction in 20:4n-6 and 22:5n-3 compared with the ovolacto vegetarian, high meat-eater, and moderate meat-eater groups. Bivariate analysis results showed that MPV was significantly positively correlated with platelet PL 18:2n-6 (P= 0.048) and negatively correlated with 20:3n-6 (P= 0.02), 20:5n-3 (P = 0.005), and 22:5n-3 (P < 0.0001), respectively. In a multiple linear regression analysis, after controlling for potential confounding factors such as dietary group, age, exercise, body mass index, and dietary polyunsaturated and saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, and fiber intake, the MPV was still strongly negatively correlated with platelet PL 20:3n-6 (P = 0.003) and 22:5n-3 (P= 0.001). The present data suggest that 22:5n-3 and 20:3n-6 may play a role in the structural function of the platelet membrane.