Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) exhibits anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Its ability to increase total GSH (GSH+GSSG) amount and gamma-glutamylcysteine ligase (gammaGCL) protein expression was recently associated with the inhibition of typical pathological signs in MRL/MpJ-Fas(lpr) mice (MRL/lpr). In the present study the ability of CLA to modulate oxidative stress and phase 2 enzyme activity in the same animal model was investigated. Disease severity was associated with age-dependent production of anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies (anti-dsDNA IgGs) and with enhanced extent of oxidative stress markers: reduced total GSH, increased protein 3-nitrotyrosines (3-NT), and protein-bound carbonyl (PC) amounts. To examine the effect of CLA on antioxidant status, CLA or olive oil (as control) was administered to pregnant MRL/lpr mice. Significantly higher total GSH and Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) levels were measured in serum of CLA-treated dams (and their pups), as compared with controls. Finally, the antioxidant and chemopreventive properties of CLA were investigated in old MRL/lpr mice. Sera of CLA-treated mice contained higher concentrations of total GSH which were negatively correlated with the levels of oxidative stress markers. Moreover, increased GSH, gammaGCL, glutathione S-transferase (GSTs), and NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) activities were measured in liver and spleen of CLA-treated animals. In conclusion our data indicate that the activation of detoxifying enzymes may be one of the mechanisms whereby dietary CLA down-regulates oxidative stress in MRL/lpr mice.