Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). In this study we showed that the phagocytosis of myelin by macrophages triggers the production of ROS. We also demonstrated that ROS play a crucial role in the myelin phagocytosis. Blocking the ROS production with NADPH oxidase inhibitors (100 microM DPI or 10 mM Apocynin) essentially prevented the phagocytosis of myelin. Furthermore, scavenging of ROS with catalase (H2O2) or mannitol (OH-) decreased the phagocytosis of myelin by macrophages, whereas superoxide dismutase (O2-) did not show this effect. In addition, Lipoic acid (LA), a non-specific scavenger of ROS, also decreased the phagocytosis of myelin by macrophages. In our results, we demonstrate for the first time that ROS appear to play a regulatory role in the phagocytosis of myelin.