Bone marrow samples from pigs infected with the highly virulent Malawi'83 or moderately virulent Dominican Republic (DR'78) isolates of African swine fever virus were studied by means of a double labelling immunohistochemical technique which stained the major structural protein VP73 of the virus and megakaryocytes simultaneously. In pigs infected with the highly virulent Malawi'83 isolate, 2.2 per cent of megakaryocytes were VP73+ five days after inoculation, and at six and seven days 2.5 and 9.5 per cent of megakaryocytes were VP73+. Some infected and uninfected megakaryocytes showed pyknosis and karyorrhexis, particularly at seven days after inoculation. However, in comparison with uninfected pigs, the number of megakaryocytes decreased only at seven days after inoculation. In pigs infected with the moderately virulent DR'78 isolate, only 0.2 per cent of megakaryocytes were VP73+ at eight days after inoculation. However, at eight, nine and 10 days after inoculation the total number of megakaryocytes was significantly lower (P<0.01) than in control uninfected pigs, and the majority of the megakaryocytes showed signs of cell death such as pyknosis and karyorrhexis. The fact that this greater destruction of megakaryocytes was associated with the lower rate of infection of this cell type suggests that indirect damage to megakaryocytes is an additional mechanism of thrombocytopenia in acute and subacute African swine fever.