This randomized study measured the influence of vitamin C ( N=15) compared to placebo ( N=13) supplementation on oxidative and salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA) changes in runners competing in an ultramarathon race. Seven days prior to the race, subjects ingested in randomized, double-blind fashion three 500-mg tablets of vitamin C or placebo each day. On race day, blood and saliva samples were collected 1 h pre-race, after 32 km of running, and then again immediately post-race. During the race, runners received 1 l/h carbohydrate beverages (60 g/l) with vitamin C (150 mg/l) or without in a double-blinded fashion. The runners also ingested two to three carbohydrate gel packs per hour (25 g each). Subjects in both groups ran a mean of 69 km (range 48-80 km) in 9.8 h (range 5-12 h) and maintained an intensity of approximately 75% maximal heart rate (HR(max)) throughout the ultramarathon race. Plasma ascorbic acid was higher in the vitamin C compared to placebo group pre-race, and increased significantly in the vitamin C group during the race [post-race, 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 and F(2)-isoprostane, but both oxidative measures rose significantly during the ultramarathon race. Saliva volume, sIgA concentration, sIgA secretion and sIgA:saliva protein ratio all decreased significantly (P<0.001) during the race, but the pattern of change in all saliva measures did not differ significantly between groups. No significant correlations were found between post-race plasma vitamin C, oxidative, and saliva measures, except for a positive correlation between post-race serum cortisol and serum vitamin C (r=0.50, P=0.006). These data indicate that vitamin C supplementation in carbohydrate-fed runners does not serve as a countermeasure to oxidative and sIgA changes during or following a competitive ultramarathon race.