To identifiy causative factors responsible for the disseminated intravascular coagulation complicating peritoneovenous (LeVeen) shunts, the ascitic fluid from 12 patients with alcoholic liver disease or peritoneal malignancy was examined for its effects on human platelets. In all patients, concentrated ascitic fluid caused irreversible platelet aggregation. Properties of the aggregating factor suggested that it is collagen, and subsequently, the presence of collagen in ascitic fluid was confirmed. This finding, together with the known effects of collagen on platelets and contact clotting factors, would be sufficient to explain the development of disseminated intravascular coagulation following this procedure. Aspirin by inhibiting collagen-induced aggregation may have a therapeutic role in the management of this problem.