Recovery in vivo after 51Cr labeling, platelet morphology, and platelet aggregation were studied with platelet concentrates (PC) stored for transfusion under carefully controlled conditions. PC were prepared to a final volume of 50 ml from whole blood anticoagulated with citrate-phosphate-dextrose (CPD). The platelet count was kept between 0.8 and 1.6 X 10(12) platelets/liter. The PC were stored in bags constructed of polyvinylchloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE) at 22 degrees C for 72 hr. The bags were placed on a horizontal shaker or a ferris wheel for agitation during storage. No significant changes in pH or platelet count were observed during storage. PC stored on the wheel showed moderate loss of viability and a marked deterioration of platelet morphology and aggregation compared to the shaker. PC stored on the shaker in bags made of PE showed better aggregation with ADP and thrombin but had the same viability and morphology as PC in bags constructed of PVC. Maintenance of normal platelet morphology as determined by phase-contrast microscopy, extent of shape change response, and the size distribution according to the Coulter Counter correlated with recovery in vivo.