Parasite-derived antioxidant proteins have been implicated in playing an important role in protection against the oxygen radicals that are generated during aerobic metabolism and in defense against host immune cell attack. Here we report that filarial nematodes include the thioredoxin peroxidase/thiol-specific antioxidant (TPx/TSA) family of antioxidant proteins as part of their complex defense against radical-mediated damage. At the protein level, the TPx/TSA from Brugia malayi (Bm-TPx-1) was approximately 50% identical and approximately 60% similar to TPx/TSAs from mammals, amphibians and yeast. Bm-TPx-1 was also approximately 60% identical to putative TPx proteins from a related filarial nematode, Onchocerca volvulus, and from the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. That B. malayi may express multiple forms of molecules with TPx/TSA activity was indicated by the identification of a B. malayi gene encoding a second, distinct member of the TPx/TSA family (Bm-tpx-2). Bm-tpx-1 was found to be transcribed in all stages of the parasite present in the mammalian host and the 25 kDa translation product was present in all of the developmental stages studied. The results of immunohistochemical, immunofluorescent and immunoprecipitation studies showed Bm-TPx-1 to be localized in the cells of the hypodermis/lateral chord in adult parasites and not to be present at the surface or in excretory/secretory products. The distribution in the parasite suggests that Bm-TPx-1 may play its major role in countering radicals produced within cells. A recombinant form of Bm-TPx-1 was biologically active and capable of protecting DNA from oxygen radical-mediated damage. Thioredoxin peroxidases may prove to be a critical component in the parasite's defense against injury caused by oxygen radicals derived from endogenous and exogenous sources.