Background: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity in postmenopausal women under certain circumstances. Part of this effect may be the result of the influence of HRT on blood platelets. We studied the effect of short-term oral hormone replacement therapy (unopposed oestradiol or sequentially combined oestradiol and trimegestone or dydrogesterone) on platelet activation parameters in healthy postmenopausal women. Design: We designed a prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled 12-week study. Sixty healthy, normotensive, nonhysterectomised, postmenopausal women received daily micronised oestradiol (E2) 2 mg (n = 16), or 2 mg E2 daily sequentially combined with either trimegestone 0.5 mg daily (n = 14) or dydrogesterone 10 mg daily (n = 14), or placebo (n = 16). Data on platelet activation were collected at baseline and after 12 weeks of treatment using flow cytometry. Results: Twelve weeks of treatment with combined HRT was associated with an increase in platelet activation parameters P-selectin and glycoprotein 53 (by 17% and 14%, respectively, P = 0.04 vs. the placebo group for both comparisons), suggesting alpha granule and lysosome degranulation. E2 replacement therapy was associated with an increase in P-selectin labelling by 22% (P = 0.04 vs. the placebo group). Conclusion: Short-term treatment with oestradiol or combined HRT increases the amount of circulating activated platelets as measured by flow cytometry. This could be a mechanism by which short-term HRT might increase the risk of thrombosis.