The aim of this study was to examine the effect of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) on lipid peroxidation (LPO) and the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) in the liver of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Twenty-seven rats were randomly divided into three groups: group 1, control non-diabetic rats (n = 9); group II, STZ-induced, untreated diabetic rats (n = 8); group III, STZ-induced, CAPE-treated diabetic rats (n = 10), which were intraperitoneally injected with CAPE (10 M kg(-1) day(-1)) after 3 days followed by STZ treatment. The liver was excised after 8 weeks of CAPE treatment, the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and the activities of SOD, CAT, and GSH-Px in the hepatic tissues of all groups were analyzed. In the untreated diabetic rats, MDA markedly increased in the hepatic tissue compared with the control rats (p < 0.0001). However, MDA levels were reduced to the control level by CAPE. The activities of SOD, CAT, and GSH-Px in the untreated diabetic group were higher than that in the control group (p < 0.0001). The activities of SOD and GSH-Px in the CAPE-treated diabetic group were higher than that in the control group (respectively, p < 0.0001, p < 0.035). There were no significant differences in the activity of CAT between the rats of CAPE-treated diabetic and control groups. Rats in the CAPE-treated diabetic group had reduced activities of SOD and CAT in comparison with the rats of untreated diabetic group (p < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in the activity of GSH-Px between the rats of untreated diabetic and CAPEtreated groups. It is likely that STZ-induced diabetes caused liver damage. In addition, LPO may be one of the molecular mechanisms involved in STZ-induced diabetic damage. CAPE can reduce LPO caused by STZ-induced diabetes. (c) 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.