Platelet-derived microparticles (PMPs) formed by vesiculation during platelet activation seem to play a role in blood coagulation and in pathological disease states. Flow cytometry is currently the gold standard to characterize platelets and PMPs. Using this technique we distinguished between platelets and PMPs based on size and the presence of phosphatidyl serine (PS); PMPs were arbitrarily defined to be smaller than one micrometer and capable of forming a stable complex with fluorescently-labeled Annexin V, a protein that forms a calcium-dependent complex with PS. Further confirmation of PMP and platelet identity was done by use of fluorescently-labeled antibodies against CD41a, a glycoprotein found on the surface of both platelets and PMPs. In this report we also introduce the use of capillary electrophoresis with post-column laser-induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIF) for the analysis of fluorescently labeled platelets and PMPs. While both flow cytometry and CE-LIF can measure individual fluorescent events, only CE-LIF allowed us to calculate individual electrophoretic mobilities of activated platelets and PMPs that were then represented as distributions. A comparison between distributions suggests that PMPs have less negative mobilities. The fact that activated platelet preparations include PMPs partially obscure the interpretation of the data. While PMP and platelet number ml-1 determined by flow cytometry is lower than the same parameter determined by CE-LIF, signal-to-noise ratio was 20 fold better for flow cytometry than for CE-LIF. This is the first time that a direct comparison between these two techniques is reported.