In recent years much attention has been focused on the role of glutathione (GSH) and GSH-related enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase (GSH Px), glutathione reductase (GSH Red), and glutathione S-transferase (GST) in the inhibition of free radical-inducec carcinogenesis. In this study, erythrocyte GSH levels and activities of GSH Px, GSH Red, and GST were determined in patients with colorectal tumors (n = 20, mean age 54.5 +/- 8.3 yr). Erythrocyte GSH Red and GST activities were significantly higher in patients with colorectal tumors. Erythrocyte GSH levels and GSH Px activities were found to be significantly decreased in the patients. When the patients were classified based on their clinical grading (Dukes classifications), there was no significant difference in studied parameters between Dukes B and Dukes C. Our results suggest that oxidative stress may play an important role in colorectal tumorigenesis and that these events have no effect on the clinical grading of the colorectal tumor.