Physical training is known to induce oxidative stress in individuals subjected to intense exercise. In this study, we investigated plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity of 25 young male footballers and a control group of similar age. Red blood cell (RBC) count, haemoglobin (Hb) and haematocrit (Hct) values, and copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) levels were also examined. The maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) of all subjects was determined in order to establish their functional capacity. The main finding of the present study was that plasma MDA levels, one of the most commonly used markers of lipid peroxidation, of this group of footballers aged under 21 decreased slightly when compared with those of the control group (p < 0.001). In contrast, erythrocyte SOD activity was higher in the footballer group than in the controls (p < 0.001). Footballers who are under regular training showed an improved antioxidant activity in comparison to sedentary controls. Plasma copper concentration, RBC count and Hb concentration of the footballer group were all significantly lower than those of the control group, (p < 0.001, p < 0.01, p < 0.01, respectively). Investigating the footballers' data with Spearman's correlation analyses, the correlation coefficients (r) between Zn/Cu ratio and SOD was positive (r=0.44; p < 0.05); and between VO2max and SOD (r=0.42; p < 0.05) were both positive. On the basis of statistical analysis, we suggest that regular exercise may be beneficial in cases of oxidative damage by reducing the amount of lipid peroxidation and increasing the activity of the antioxidant enzyme SOD.