trans-Resveratrol (3,4',5-trihydroxystilbene; RES), a polyphenol found in particularly high concentrations in red wine, has recently attracted intense interest for its potentially beneficial effects on human health. Here, we report the effects of long-term exposure to micromolar concentrations of RES on antioxidant and DNA repair enzyme activities in a human cell line (MRC-5). RES had either no effect on, or reduced the activities of glutathione peroxidase, catalase and CuZn superoxide dismutase (SOD), in treatments lasting up to 2 weeks. RES failed to induce activities of the DNA base excision repair enzymes apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease and DNA polymerase beta. However, it dramatically and progressively induced mitochondrial MnSOD expression and activity. Two weeks exposure to RES increased MnSOD protein level 6-fold and activity 14-fold. Thus, long-term exposure of human cells to RES results in a highly specific upregulation of MnSOD, and this may be an important mechanism by which it elicits its effects in human cells.