Pesticides are the main environmental factor associated with the etiology of human neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that the treatment of rats with low doses of dimethoate, zineb or glyphosate alone or in combination induces oxidative stress (OS) in liver and brain. The aim of the present work was to investigate if the pesticide-induced OS was able to affect brain and liver cell survival. The treatment of Wistar rats with the pesticides (i.p. 1/250 LD50, three times a week for 5 weeks) caused loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential and cardiolipin content, especially in substantia nigra (SN), with a concomitant increase of fatty acid peroxidation. The activation of calpain apoptotic cascade (instead of the caspase-dependent pathway) would be responsible for the DNA fragmentation pattern observed. Thus, these results may contribute to understand the effect(s) of chronic and simultaneous exposure to pesticides on cell survival.