The reduction of membrane-bound hydroperoxides is a major factor acting against lipid peroxidation in living systems. This paper presents the characterization of the previously described 'peroxidation-inhibiting protein' as a 'phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase'. The enzyme is a monomer of 23 kDa (SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis). It contains one gatom Se/22 000 g protein. Se is in the selenol form, as indicated by the inactivation experiments in the presence of iodoacetate under reducing conditions. The glutathione peroxidase activity is essentially the same on different phospholipids enzymatically hydroperoxidized by the use of soybean lipoxidase (EC 184.108.40.206) in the presence of deoxycholate. The kinetic data are compatible with a tert-uni ping-pong mechanism, as in the case of the 'classical' glutathione peroxidase (EC 220.127.116.11). The second-order rate constants (K1) for the reaction of the enzyme with the hydroperoxide substrates indicate that, while H2O2 is reduced faster by the glutathione peroxidase, linoleic acid hydroperoxide is reduced faster by the present enzyme. Moreover, the phospholipid hydroperoxides are reduced only by the latter. The dramatic stimulation exerted by Triton X-100 on the reduction of the phospholipid hydroperoxides suggests that this enzyme has an 'interfacial' character. The similarity of amino acid composition, Se content and kinetic mechanism, relative to the difference in substrate specificity, indicates that the two enzymes 'classical' glutathione peroxidase and phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase are in some way related. The latter is apparently specialized for lipophylic, interfacial substrates.