The relationship between lipid soluble antioxidant vitamins, lipid peroxidation, disease stage and the systemic inflammatory response were examined in healthy subjects (n = 14), patients with benign prostate hyperplasia BPH (n = 20), localized (n = 40) and metastatic (n = 38) prostate cancer. Prostate cancer patients had higher concentrations of malondialdehyde (p < 0.05) and lower circulating concentrations of lutein (p < 0.05), lycopene (p < 0.001) and beta-carotene (p < 0.05). Patients with metastatic prostate cancer, when compared with patients having localized disease, had a higher Gleason score (p < 0.01) and had more hormonal treatment, but lower concentrations of PSA (p < 0.05), alpha-tocopherol (p < or = 0.05), retinol (p < 0.01), lutein (p < 0.05) and lycopene (p < 0.01). In the prostate cancer patients, PSA was correlated with the concentrations of the lipid peroxidation product, malondialdehyde (rs= 0.353, p = 0.002). C-reactive protein was not correlated with the vitamin antioxidants nor malondialdehyde. In contrast, there was a negative correlation between malondialdehyde concentrations and both lutein (rs= -0.263, p = 0.020) and lycopene (rs= -0.269, p = 0.017). These results indicate that lower concentrations of carotenoids, in particular, lycopene reflect disease progression rather than the systemic inflammatory response in patients with prostate cancer.