Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase (GPX) levels were determined in 56 asthmatic children. Lowest levels were found during acute asthmatic attack (13.53 +/- 2.94 IU) which were significantly less than controls (20.4 +/- 5.44 IU) (P less than .001). Post-attack levels 1 week later rose significantly (16.77 +/- 2.63 IU), but were still less than normal values (P = .001). GPX levels (16.96 +/- 3.28 IU) were less than controls (P less than .03) even in patients with mild symptomatology. Asymptomatic patients receiving theophylline had normal levels. Low GPX activity in asthmatic patients may play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease.