Reactive oxygen species are regarded as a possible cause of many diseases. However, there are few reports offering in vivo and in situ proof of the direct involvement of reactive oxygen species in the pathogenesis of disease. In the present study, the luciferin derivative 2-methyl-6-[4-methoxyphenyl]-3,7-dihydroimidazo [1,2-alpha] pyrazin-3-one (MCLA) was used to investigate the amount of reactive oxygen species produced during resuscitation after asphyxiation load in newborn piglets. The animals were first asphyxiated by stopping respiration for 4 min, and then resuscitated using 100% oxygen. When physiologic saline solution was administered, lung surface chemiluminescence had a mean value of 2, whereas with MCLA, a maximum luminescence of 580 was seen, demonstrating the possibility of measuring reactive oxygen species in vivo and in situ using MCLA. In a group in which resuscitation after acute asphyxiation was performed with 21% oxygen, the relative maximum lung surface chemiluminescence was 59.5+/-39, whereas that for a group in which resuscitation was performed using 100% oxygen had a significantly higher value of 186.1+/-72.5. Consequently, ventilation and especially resuscitation by 100% oxygen may represent a potential danger.