The effect of lipid peroxidation on membrane fluidity was examined in sonicated soybean phospholipid vesicles. Following iron/ascorbate dependent peroxidation, the vesicles were labeled with a series of doxyl stearate spin probes which differed in the site of attachment of the nitroxide free radical to the fatty acid. Comparison of motional and partitioning parameters derived from electron spin resonance spectra of the probes indicated that the membranes were less fluid following peroxidation. However, the magnitude of the fluidity decrease was markedly dependent on the intramembrane location, as well as on the extent of lipid peroxidation. The effect of lipid peroxidation on fluidity was maximal in the membrane microenvironment sampled by 12-doxyl stearate, whereas other regions of the bilayer were less affected. These findings indicate that lipid peroxidation leads to an alteration of the transbilayer fluidity gradient.