Oxidative damage has been suggested to be a contributing factor in the development to diabetic nephropathy (DN). Recently, there has been evidence that pentoxifylline (PTX) has free radical-scavenging properties; thus, its anti-inflammatory and renoprotective effects may be related to a reduction in reactive oxygen species production. It is likely that the pharmacological effects of PTX include an antioxidant mechanism as shown in in vitro assays. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the reported renoprotective effects of PTX could be the result of its antioxidant actions in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced DN in rats. The administration of PTX over a period of 8 weeks, in addition to displaying renoprotective effects, caused a significant reduction in lipoperoxide levels (LPOS) in the diabetic kidney (P < 0.05), compared to untreated rats. These levels were comparable to those in the healthy kidney of experimental animals (P > 0.05). All untreated STZ rats exhibited an increase in LPOS as opposed to healthy controls (H) (P < 0.001). The total antioxidant activity (TAA) in plasma was increased significantly already after 2 days of STZ (P < 0.05). When we examined the progression of TAA in STZ rats, there was a significant decrease over 8 weeks (P < 0.05). PTX treatment caused an increase in TAA when compared to untreated STZ rats (P < 0.05). Renal hypertrophy was less evident in PTX-treated STZ than in untreated STZ rats, evaluated by kidney weight/body weight ratio. These results indicate that PTX decreases the oxidative damage induced by these experimental procedures and may increase antioxidant defense mechanisms in STZ-induced diabetes in rats.