The important role of oxygen radicals in acute experimental pancreatitis was demonstrated by study of the changes in the antioxidant system in the blood, liver, kidney, and pancreas of rats after the administration of a large quantity of L-arginine (L-Arg). The changes in lipid peroxidation and in reduced and oxidized glutathione were followed, as well as the activities of peroxide-decomposing enzymes (glutathione peroxidase and catalase) and H2O2-producing superoxide dismutases. The results demonstrated that "oxidative stress" develops and acute pancreatitis appears rapidly after L-Arg treatment. Oxidative stress symptoms are expressed 24 h after the final treatment. Slow restitution of the studied antioxidant system can be demonstrated as early as after 48 h.