Atherothrombotic coronary artery disease is the single most common cause of death worldwide and a growing public health problem. Platelets play a central role in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis and are therefore commonly targeted by one or more antiplatelet drugs as part of primary and secondary atherothrombosis prevention strategies. Aspirin reduces the risk of serious vascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular death) by approximately 20% in a broad range of high-risk patients and remains the first-line antiplatelet drug because of its relative safety, low cost and cost-effectiveness. Compared with aspirin alone, clopidogrel reduces the risk of serious vascular events by approximately 10% and the combination of aspirin and clopidogrel reduces the risk by approximately 20% in patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome. Clopidogrel has a similar safety profile to aspirin but clopidogrel tablets are substantially more expensive. However, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of clopidogrel compared with aspirin is favourable, particularly in high-risk patients and is intermediate compared with a range of other effective therapeutic strategies for the treatment of coronary heart disease. Clopidogrel should be considered as a replacement for aspirin in patients who are allergic to aspirin, cannot tolerate aspirin, have experienced a recurrent atherothrombotic vascular event whilst taking aspirin and are at very high absolute risk of a serious vascular event (e.g., > 20%/year). The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin should be considered in patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome or undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention.