The purpose of this randomized study was to measure the influence of vitamin C (n = 15 runners) compared with placebo (n = 13 runners) supplementation on oxidative and immune changes in runners competing in an ultramarathon race. During the 7-day period before the race and on race day, subjects ingested in randomized, double-blind fashion 1,500 mg/day vitamin C or placebo. On race day, blood samples were collected 1 h before race, after 32 km of running, and then again immediately after race. Subjects in both groups maintained an intensity of approximately 75% maximal heart rate throughout the ultramarathon race and ran a mean of 69 km (range: 48-80 km) in 9.8 h (range: 5-12 h). Plasma ascorbic acid was markedly higher in the vitamin C compared with placebo group prerace and rose more strongly in the vitamin C group during the race (postrace: 3.21 +/- 0.29 and 1.28 +/- 0.12 microg/100 microl, respectively, P < 0.001). No significant group or interaction effects were measured for lipid hydroperoxide, F2-isoprostane, immune cell counts, plasma interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, IL-1-receptor antagonist, or IL-8 concentrations, or mitogen-stimulated lymphocyte proliferation and IL-2 and IFN-gamma production. These data indicate that vitamin C supplementation in carbohydrate-fed runners does not serve as a countermeasure to oxidative and immune changes during or after a competitive ultramarathon race.