The formulation of Roundup consists of the herbicide glyphosate as the active ingredient with polyethoxylene amine added as a surfactant. The acute toxicity of Roundup (particularly of glyphosate) to animals is considered to be low according to the World Health Organization, but the extensive use of Roundup may still cause environmental problems with negative impact on wildlife, particularly in an aquatic environment where chemicals may persist for a long time. Therefore, we studied the effects of Roundup on markers of oxidative stress and antioxidant defense in goldfish, Carassius auratus. The fish were given 96 h exposure to Roundup at concentrations of 2.5-20 mg L(-1). Exposure to Roundup did not affect levels of lipid peroxides (LOOH) in goldfish brain or liver, and in kidney only the 10 mg L(-1) treatment elevated LOOH by 3.2-fold. Herbicide exposure also had no effect on the concentrations of protein thiols or low molecular mass thiols in kidney, but selective suppression of low molecular mass thiols by 26-29% occurred at some treatment levels in brain and liver. Roundup exposure generally suppressed the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione S-transferase (GST), glutathione reductase and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase in fish tissues. For example, SOD activities were reduced by 51-68% in brain, 58-67% in liver and 33-53% in kidney of Roundup treated fish. GST activity decreased by 29-34% in liver. However, catalase activity increased in both liver and kidney of herbicide-exposed fish. To our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate a systematic response by the antioxidant systems of fish to Roundup exposure.