Type I 5'-deiodinase was recently characterized as a selenocysteine-containing enzyme in humans and other mammals. Up to now, the effect of selenium (Se) supplementation on thyroid hormone metabolism in humans has only been reported in the very peculiar nutritional environment of Central Africa, where combined severe iodine and Se deficiency occurs. In this study, a group of phenylketonuria subjects with a low selenium status, but a normal iodine intake were supplemented with selenium to investigate changes in their thyroid hormone metabolism. After 3 wk of selenium supplementation (1 microgram/kg/d), both the concentrations of the prohormone thyroxine (T4) and the metabolic inactive reverse triiodothyronine (rT3) decreased significantly. Clinically, the phenylketonuria subjects remained euthyroid before and after selenium supplementation. The individual changes of plasma Se and glutathione peroxidase activity were closely associated with individual changes of plasma T4 and rT3.