We investigated whether 8-week treadmill training strengthens antioxidant enzymes and decreases lipid peroxidation in rat heart. The effects of acute exhaustive exercise were also investigated. Male rats (Rattus norvegicus, Sprague-Dawley strain) were divided into trained and untrained groups. Both groups were further divided equally into two groups where the rats were studied at rest and immediately after exhaustive exercise. Endurance training consisted of treadmill running 1.5 h day(-1), 5 days week(-1) for 8 weeks. For acute exhaustive exercise, graded treadmill running was conducted. Malondialdehyde level in heart tissue was not affected by acute exhaustive exercise in untrained and trained rats. The activities of glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase enzymes decreased by both acute exercise and training. Glutathione S-transferase and catalase activities were not affected. Total and non-enzymatic superoxide scavenger activities were not affected either. Superoxide dismutase activity decreased by acute exercise in untrained rats; however, this decrease was not observed in trained rats. Our results suggested that rat heart has sufficient antioxidant enzyme capacity to cope with exercise-induced oxidative stress, and adaptive changes in antioxidant enzymes due to endurance training are limited. (C) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.