Voluntary runners are subjected to a massive increase in reactive oxygen/nitrogen species production, which can promote different oxidative stress-related diseases such as premature aging, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer. The aims of this work were to evaluate the following in peripheral blood cells of voluntary runners: (i) DNA status; (ii) susceptibility to the in vitro insult induced by hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) as a breaking agent; (iii) capabilities of 3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene (RESV) in counteracting DNA damage. Twenty-five male voluntary runners were compared with 20 sedentary men, as age-matched controls, and DNA status was evaluated with different versions of comet assay: alkaline, neutral, and Fpg enzyme-modified version to measure 8-OH-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) levels. The H(2)O(2) and/or RESV treatments were performed directly on agarose-embedded cells (atypical comet assay). The results evidenced DNA damage and levels of 8-oxo-dG higher in runners than in sedentary control subjects. The runners' DNA was more prone to the in vitro-induced oxidative insult (200 μM H(2)O(2)) than that of the control group. Resveratrol (100 μM), depending on the individual basal DNA status, was able to switch from antioxidant to pro-oxidant. Our results, on the one hand, validated the proposed in vitro experimental protocol in order to measure individual DNA status. On the other hand, our data point out the importance of monitoring the athletes' redox status before subjecting them to dietary supplementation treatment.