Sulfhydryl groups, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) are important elements of the antioxidant defence in the organism. The efficacy of their antioxidant action is influenced by many factors. In this work, the effect of fasting on total, protein-bound and nonprotein sulfhydryl groups and on the activity of liver and serum GPx and GST in rats were determined. Male Wistar rats were divided into two groups: non-fasted and 18-hour fasted. In fasted animals liver content of nonprotein sulfhydryl groups (represented predominantly by reduced glutathione; GSH) was diminished by 22% in comparison to non-fasted group, whereas total and protein-bound -SH groups were unaffected. The activity of liver and serum GPx was unchanged in food deprived rats. In these animals the activity of GST in serum was reduced by 26%. Fasting had no significant effect on the activity of GST in the liver. Our results demonstrate that in rats deprived of food for 18 hours liver and serum GPx and GST are not involved in protection against action of reactive oxygen species formed during fasting. The observed drop in the content of liver nonprotein sulfhydryl groups without concomitant rise in the activity of GPx and GST indicates that this effect may be due to augmented degradation of GSH, its potentiated efflux from hepatocytes and formation of conjugates with intermediates arising as a result of reactive oxygen species action.