Neutrophils have the capacity to produce free radicals. Free radicals are associated with hyperlipoproteinemia and atherosclerotic processes. For this reason, neutrophil superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), glutathione reductase (GR), catalase (Cat) activities and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), as an index of lipid peroxidation, have been studied in hyperlipoproteinemic (HLP) and age-matched normolipidemic groups. Lipid parameters including triglycerides, total cholesterol, plasma TBARS, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, apo A-I, apo B have also been determined. Forty subjects (females 18, males 22) with HLP (mean age 43.8+/-8.7 (S.D.)) and 40 normolipoproteinemic subjects (females 17, males 23; mean age 46.4+/-11) were included in the study. Neutrophils were isolated by Percoll gradient centrifugation from venous blood samples. Methods used were as follows: INT method for SOD, UV method at 340 nm based on oxidation of NADPH for GSH-Px and GR, UV method at 240 nm based on degradation of hydrogen peroxide for catalase, and a method based on reaction with thiobarbituric acid for TEARS. Neutrophil SOD, GSH-Px, and catalase activities were found to be significantly low in the hyperlipoproteinemic group compared with the normolipoproteinemic group. CR activity did not differ between both groups. The mean TEARS level in the neutrophil fraction was found to be significantly higher in hyperlipoproteinemics than in that of the normolipoproteinemics. It was concluded that decreased neutrophil antioxidant enzyme activities in hyperlipoproteinemics may lead to insufficient detoxification of free radicals produced in these cells and contribute to increased lipid peroxidation. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.