The aim of this study was to investigate the protective effects of vanadyl sulfate on aorta tissue of normal and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats, morphologically and biochemically. The animals were made diabetic by an intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin (65 mg/kg) and vanadyl sulfate (100 mg/kg) that was given every day for 60 days by gavage technique to rats. Under the light and transmission electron microscopes, hypertrophy of the vessel wall, focal disruption in the elastic lamellae, an increase in thickness of total aortic wall, tunica intima, subendothelial space and adventitial layer, and a disorganization in smooth muscular cells of the tunica media were observed in diabetic animals. The aorta lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels were significantly increased and the aorta glutathione (GSH) levels were significantly reduced in STZ diabetic rats. In diabetic rats administered vanadyl sulfate for 60 days, aorta LPO levels significantly decreased and the aorta GSH level significantly increased. In conclusion, in vivo treatment with vanadyl sulfate of diabetic rats prevented the morphological and biochemical changes observed in thoracic aorta of diabetic animals. Copyright (K 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.