This study was designed to investigate the effects of melatonin and estradiol (E2) on lipid peroxidation and antioxidant defense enzymes in blood and liver tissue when administered in vivo. Wistar albino rats were divided into three experimental groups and treated with either estradiol (25 mg/kg bw, s.c.), melatonin (i. p.), or melatonin plus E2, whereas control animals had diluent injections only. Melatonin was given 10 mg/kg bw x 2 intraperitoneally 30 min before and 60 min after E2 treatment to the melatonin plus E2 group. Animals were sacrificed three hours after the estradiol injection, and their blood and liver tissues were prepared for biochemical analyses. Tissue malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and antioxidant enzyme activities superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) - were determined in the postmitochondrial fraction, and the results were compared. Estradiol injection caused significant increases in both MDA levels and GPx activity in liver. When melatonin was administered in combination with E2, the effect of estradiol on MDA levels was abolished. A significant decrement in SOD activity occurred in melatonin-treated animals. GPx activity in the blood of E2 plus melatonin-injected animals was significantly higher than those in control animals. Melatonin-treated animals exhibited relatively lower levels of SOD activity than those from the control and E2 plus melatonin groups. This indicates that estradiol could exert oxidant action resulting in an increment in tissue malondialdehyde levels. Enhanced activity of GPx in both liver and blood following melatonin injection may indicate the contribution of this neurohormone on the antioxidant defense.