Impaired complex III activity and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in mitochondria have been identified as key events leading to renal damage during diabetes. Due to its high content of oleic acid and antioxidants, we aimed to test whether avocado oil may attenuate the alterations in electron transfer at complex III induced by diabetes by a mechanism related with increased resistance to lipid peroxidation. 90 days of avocado oil administration prevented the impairment in succinate-cytochrome c oxidoreductase activity caused by streptozotocin-induced diabetes in kidney mitochondria. This was associated with a protection against decreased electron transfer through high potential chain in complex III related to cytochromes c + c1 loss. During Fe(2+)-induced oxidative stress, avocado oil improved the activities of complexes II and III and enhanced the protection conferred by a lipophilic antioxidant against damage by Fe(2+). Avocado oil also decreased ROS generation in Fe(2+)-damaged mitochondria. Alterations in the ratio of C20:4/C18:2 fatty acids were observed in mitochondria from diabetic animals that not were corrected by avocado oil treatment, which yielded lower peroxidizability indexes only in diabetic mitochondria although avocado oil caused an augment in the total content of monounsaturated fatty acids. Moreover, a protective effect of avocado oil against lipid peroxidation was observed consistently only in control mitochondria. Since the beneficial effects of avocado oil in diabetic mitochondria were not related to increased resistance to lipid peroxidation, these effects were discussed in terms of the antioxidant activity of both C18:1 and the carotenoids reported to be contained in avocado oil.