The aim of the present study is to evaluate the possible influence of virgin olive oil (VOO) on the effect of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) in platelet aggregation, prostanoid and NO production and retinal vascular pattern in rats with experimental type 1-like diabetes. We used 100 male Wistar rats that were distributed into five groups: (1) non-diabetic rats (NDR); (2) untreated diabetic rats (DR); (3) DR treated with ASA (2 mg/kg per d per os (p.o.)); (4) DR treated with VOO (0·5 ml/kg per d p.o.); (5) DR treated with ASA plus VOO. The duration of diabetes was 3 months, and each treatment was administered from the first day of diabetes. Variables that were quantified were platelet aggregation (Imax), thromboxane B2 (TxB2), aortic prostacyclin (6-keto-PGF1α) and NO, and the percentage of retina with horseradish peroxidase-permeable vessels (HRP-PV). Diabetic rats showed a higher Imax (35 %) and TxB2 (63 %) than NDR, and a lower 6-keto-PGF1α, NO and HRP-PV than NDR ( − 74·6 %). ASA and VOO administration reduced these differences and prevented the percentage of HRP-PV ( − 59·7 % with ASA and − 46·7 % with VOO). The administration of ASA plus VOO showed a strong platelet inhibition (80·2 v. 23·4 % for VOO and 50·6 % for ASA+VOO, P < 0·0001), and reduced HRP-PV differences to − 31·6 % (P < 0·001 with respect to DR and P < 0·0001 with respect to DR treated with ASA). In conclusion, the administration of VOO to rats with type 1-like diabetes mellitus improves the pharmacodynamic profile of ASA, and increases its retinal anti-ischaemic effect.