Glutathione peroxidases (EC 220.127.116.11 and EC 18.104.22.168) catalyze the reduction of H(2)O(2) or organic hydroperoxides to water or corresponding alcohols using reduced glutathione. Some glutathione peroxidase isozymes have a selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase activity and present a selenocysteine encoded by the opal TGA codon. In the present study, insights into the evolution of the whole glutathione peroxidase gene family were obtained after a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis using the improved number of glutathione peroxidase sequences recorded in the PeroxiBase database (http://peroxidase.isb-sib.ch/index.php). The identification of a common ancestral origin for the diverse glutathione peroxidase clusters was not possible. The complex relationships and evolutionary rates of this gene family suggest that basal glutathione peroxidase classes, present in all kingdoms, have originated from independent evolutionary events such as gene duplication, gene losses, lateral gene transfer among invertebrates and vertebrates or plants. In addition, the present study also emphasizes the possibility of some members being submitted to strong selective forces that probably dictated functional convergences of taxonomically distant groups.