In this study, the effects of UVA and UVB rays on antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase) were examined in the corneal epithelium. The corneas of albino rabbits were irradiated with a UV lamp generating UVA (365 nm wavelength) or UVB rays (312 nm wavelength), 1 x daily for 5 min, from a distance of 0.03 m, over 4 days (shorter procedure) or 8 days (longer procedure). In contrast to UVA rays, which did not evoke significant disturbances, UVB rays changed the activities of antioxidant enzymes. The longer repeated irradiation with UVB rays was performed, the deeper the observed decrease in antioxidant enzymes. The shorter procedure evoked a more profound decrease of glutathione peroxidase and catalase (the enzymes cleaving hydrogen peroxide) than of superoxide dismutase, an enzyme scavenging superoxide radical and producing hydrogen peroxide during the dismutation reaction of a superoxide free radical. This may contribute to an insufficient hydrogen peroxide cleavage at the corneal surface and danger to the cornea from oxidative damage. After the longer procedure (UVB rays), the activities of all antioxidant enzymes were very low or completely absent. In conclusion, repeated irradiation of the cornea with UVB rays evokes a deficiency in antioxidant enzymes in the corneal epithelium, which very probably contributes to the damage of the cornea (and possibly also deeper parts of the eye) from UVB rays and the reactive oxygen products generated by them.