Reduced levels of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) have been observed in adults with asthma. This study examines the antioxidant status in children with asthma compared with a control group in a cross-sectional analysis. Red blood cell GSH-Px, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and plasma concentrations of retinol, vitamin C, alpha tocopherol, and cholesterol were measured in 37 subjects (26 males) with stable controlled asthma. Thirty-five subjects (20 males) without eczema, hayfever, or recurrent respiratory symptoms were used as a control group. Children with asthma had significantly reduced red blood cell GSH-Px activity compared with controls [median (inter-quartile range) for asthma group, 10.25 (9.25-11.91); for control group, 11.75 (10.34-12.26) IU/g Hb; P = 0.006]. There were no significant differences in activity of SOD or vitamin C, retinol, or alpha tocopherol/cholesterol ratio. The reduction in GSH-Px activity may have therapeutic and etiological implications for asthma. The effects of disease activity and treatment on antioxidant status needs for further study.