There is increasing evidence that free radical-induced oxidative damage may play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Free radicals are reactive oxygen compounds that may attack and damage lipids, proteins, and DNA. The brain is especially sensitive to oxidative damage because of its high content of readily oxidized fatty acids, high use of oxygen, and low levels of antioxidants. Evidence for oxidative damage has been obtained from postmortem brain tissue as well as from living patients with Alzheimer's disease. Antioxidants such as vitamin E show promise that they may help in treating the disease.