Oxidative stress is involved in the initiation and development of atherosclerosis in diabetes. We tested the hypothesis that oxidative stress is already increased in early stage type II diabetes, and that troglitazone may prevent the increase. Three groups of 20 week old rats were studied: untreated Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats, as an animal model of type II diabetes, OLETF rats treated with troglitazone, and control Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) rats. Plasma lipid hydroperoxides (LOOH) concentration, as an indication of lipid peroxidation, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in the thoracic aorta were measured. Plasma LOOH concentration was significantly higher in non-treated OLETF rats compared to LETO rats and treatment with troglitazone completely prevented this increase. SOD activity was significantly decreased in non-treated OLETF rats compared to LETO rats and troglitazone attenuated the diminution of it. These observations demonstrate oxidative stress is already increased in the early stage of type II diabetes and we confirmed troglitazone has the effect of an antioxidant in vivo.