Epidemiological studies indicate that ochratoxin A (OTA) may be involved in the pathogenesis of different forms of human nephropathies. Melatonin (MEL) displays antioxidant and free radical scavenger properties. In the present study, the effect of MEL on the oxidative stress induced by OTA administration in rats was investigated. Three groups of eight rats each were used: control, OTA (289 mug kg(-1) day) and OTA + MEL (OTA, 289 mug kg(-1) day(-1); MEL, 10 mg kg(-1) day(-1)), with treatment at two different time periods during the same day. After 4 weeks of treatment, the levels of lipid peroxidation (LPO) and the activities of catalase, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx) were measured in homogenates of kidney. In OTA-treated rats, the levels of LPO and the activities of GSHPx and SOD were significantly decreased compared with controls. In OTA + MEL-treated rats, SOD, GSHPx and catalase activities and LPO levels were not changed significantly in comparison with controls. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.