The purpose of this work was to evaluate the response of the antioxidant system of goldfish Carassius auratus during anoxia and reoxygenation. The exposure of goldfish to 8 h of anoxia induced a 14% decrease in total glutathione levels in the kidney, although the liver, brain, and muscle were unaffected. Anoxia also resulted in increases in the activities of liver catalase, brain glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, and brain glutathione peroxidase (by 38, 26, and 79%, respectively) and a decrease in kidney catalase activity (by 17.5%). After 14 h of reoxygenation, liver catalase and brain glutathione peroxidase activities remained higher than controls and several other tissue-specific changes occurred in enzyme activities. Superoxide dismutase activity was unaffected by anoxia and reoxygenation. The levels of conjugated dienes, as indicators of lipid peroxidation, increased by 114% in liver after 1 h of reoxygenation and by 75% in brain after 14 h of reoxygenation. Lipid peroxidation was unaffected in kidney and depressed during anoxia and reoxygenation (by 44-61%) in muscle. Regulation of the goldfish antioxidant system during anoxia may constitute a biochemical mechanism that minimizes oxidative stress following reoxygenation.