We investigated the effect of pentoxyfilline against ischaemia-reperfusion injury due to tourniquets applied during the reconstruction of fingers snapped in accidents. At the beginning of the operation plasma levels of lipid peroxides (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances) and erythrocyte glutathione (as an endogenous antioxidant) were determined in the control (n = 15) and treatment (n = 15) groups. After 400 mg pentoxyfilline had been given to the treatment group the tourniquet was applied. The same parameters were determined l h after ischaemia and half an hour of reperfusion in both groups. The levels of plasma thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TEARS) increased significantly in the control group, while there was a significant decrease in the treatment group during tourniquet. There were no significant changes in plasma TBARS levels in either group half an hour after reperfusion as compared with the initial levels, and no significant difference in erythrocyte glutathione (GSH) levels between ischaemia and reperfusion periods. Our results indicate that, although pentoxyfilline has an antioxidative effect, erythrocyte GSH level is apparently not influenced by pentoxyfilline. ©1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.