Sleep deprivation by the disk-over-water technique results in a predictable syndrome of physiological changes in rats. It has been proposed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) may be responsible for some of these effects. A variety of antioxidative enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) help to regulate the level of ROS. In this study we investigated the effects of prolonged (5-11 days) sleep deprivation on the activities of SOD and GPx as well as the metabolic activity of the mitochondria (using alamar blue) in several brain regions (cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus, brainstem and cerebellum). We show that prolonged sleep deprivation significantly decreased Cu/Zn-SOD activity in the hippocampus and brainstem, suggesting an alteration in the metabolism of ROS resulting in oxidative stress.