Oxidative effects via free radical generation in smokers have been widely investigated. They cause lipid peroxidation, oxidation of proteins and damage to mainly lung and other tissues. In humans, antioxidative capacity of serum is related to antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and melatonin. The effect of cigarette smoking on plasma levels of melatonin and antioxidant enzymes has not been established together yet. Also, it may not be clear if melatonin levels are affected by smoking and melatonin has a protective effect on cigarette smoking-induced free radical damage. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between smoking and antioxidant capacity including melatonin, a powerful endogenous antioxidant, and antioxidant enzymes in teenage girls who are active smokers. Additionally, malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were determined in those who have smoked at least one packet a day for three or more years. MDA levels have been used as a convenient index of the lipid peroxidation-related oxidative damage of tissues. Twenty-one young female active smokers who study at the School of Nursing and 21 nonsmoking students (as controls) at the same school were included in the study The activities of two principal antioxidant enzymes SOD, GSH-Px and plasma levels of MDA were significantly increased but melatonin content of the blood was significantly decreased as compared to nonsmokers. In spite of an increase in antioxidant enzyme activities, MDA levels were slightly increased in smokers. This indicates that antioxidant self-defence mechanisms may not sufficiently protect the respiratory system from smoke-mediated oxidative injury This result may be related to low melatonin levels in teenage female smokers. It seems that melatonin can reduce free radical damage to the respiratory system induced by cigarette smoke. Further experimental investigations with exogenous melatonin treatments will be needed. Toxicology and Industrial Health 2005; 21: 21-26.