Lipid peroxidation is an important process in oxygen toxicity. Free radicals inflict this damage by attacking polyunsaturated fatty acids, thus setting off a deleterious chain reaction that ultimately results in their disintegration into malondialdehye, 4 hydroxy-2-nonenal and other harmful by-products. Peroxidation of lipids has been implicated in several diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE is an autoimmune disorder with unknown aetiology, characterized by the presence of autoantibodies to self-antigens. There is a significant increase in the production of free radicals like superoxide and hydroxyl radicals in SLE. Indices of lipid peroxidation, like conjugated dienes, malondialdehyde, 8-isoprostaglandin F2 alpha are significantly elevated in SLE. Increased ceruloplasmin levels and decreased transferrin levels in the sera of SLE patients have also been described. The activities of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase and the amounts of the antioxidant reduced glutathione are also significantly altered in this disease. In addition, there are significant changes in the essential fatty acid profile in the sera of those affected with the disease. In animal models of the disease, immunization of mice with peptides derived from autoantigens induces SLE like disease. Immunization with an oxidatively modified autoantigen led to the rapid development of autoimmunity compared to immunization with the unmodified autoantigen. Thus, oxidative damage appears to play an important role in SLE pathogenesis.