The activity of the enzymes NTPDase and 5'-nucleotidase was studied in both diabetes mellitus and an associated model of iron-overload. Rats were divided in five groups: citrate (CC), saline (S), diabetic (D), iron-overload (IO), and diabetic iron-overload (DIO). Diabetes was induced with alloxan (150 mg/kg), and iron-overload was induced with iron-dextran (10 intramuscular applications of +/-80 mg/kg). The enzymatic activities were evaluated in the platelets. The results demonstrated an increase in the activity of NTPDase with substrates ATP and ADP (60% and 120%, respectively; P<0.001), and 5'-nucleotidase (60%, P<0.001). This increase was more intense in the IO and DIO groups. The results obtained in vitro showed an activation in ATP, ADP, and AMP hydrolysis between 1 microM and 1,000 microM ferric nitrate concentrations, being more pronounced at 100 microM and decreasing at 1,000 microM. We concluded that diabetes mellitus in association with iron-overload increased the hydrolysis of adenine nucleotides in platelets, contributing to the abnormalities found in these pathological conditions.