To analyze the effect of lecithinized superoxide dismutase (SOD) on superoxide accumulation after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in rats, we studied the SOD activity by NBT-reducing method and the expression of Cu,Zn-SOD mRNA by Northern blot analysis. As determined by the specific gravity method, the administration of lecithinized SOD decreased brain edema in the periphery of the lesion at 6 hr after contusion. SOD activity, without lecithinized SOD administration, increased at the peripheral portion at 30 min after contusion, but decreased to normal level at 6 hr after TBI. By administration of lecithinized SOD, the increase of SOD activity was preserved until 6 hr after TBI. The expression of Cu,Zn-SOD mRNA increased in the core lesion, peripheral portion, and contralateral hemisphere until 6 hr after TBI, then was suppressed in all three areas by lecithinized SOD. These results support the hypothesis that superoxide anions may play an important role in the development of brain edema after TBI, and that leciyhinized SOD appears to prevent brain edema through a protective effect against superoxide anions.