Ethanol oxidation to acetaldehyde and next to acetate is accompanied by free radical generation. Free radicals can affect cell integrity when antioxidant mechanisms are no longer able to cope with the free radical generation observed in ethanol intoxication. Natural antioxidants are particularly useful in such a situation. The present study was designed to investigate the efficacy of green tea as a source of water-soluble antioxidants (catechins) on the liver and blood serum antioxidative potential of rats chronically (28 days) intoxicated with ethanol. Alcohol caused a decrease in liver superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities and an increase in activity of glutathione reductase. Moreover, a decrease in the level of reduced glutathione, ascorbic acid, vitamins A and E and beta-carotene were observed. The activity of serum glutathione peroxidase decreased while glutathione reductase activity increased. The level of serum non-enzymatic antioxidants was also decreased in the liver. Alcohol administration caused an increase in the liver and serum lipid peroxidation products, measured as thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances. However, green tea prevents the changes observed after ethanol intoxication. Green tea also protects membrane phospholipids from enhanced peroxidation. These results indicate a beneficial effect of green tea in alcohol intoxication.