Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is a widely used treatment modality in many diseases. A known side effect of HBO is the production of reactive oxygen species. Many antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, riboflavin and selenium have been used successfully to scavenge the reactive oxygen species caused by HBO administration. In this study, we aimed to see if melatonin, a newly discovered antioxidant, has a protective effect against the overproduction of reactive oxygen species produced by HBO in rat lung tissue. Sixty male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into 5 groups as follows: control, daytime HBO (3 ATA, 120 min), daytime HBO plus melatonin (10 mg/kg), nighttime HBO and nighttime HBO (under light exposure). The MDA, SOD and CAT levels of daytime and nighttime HBO (under light exposure) increased significantly. This significance was not found in the daytime HBO plus melatonin and nighttime HBO groups when compared with the control. In this study, HBO caused oxidant stress, and melatonin decreased the levels of MDA, SOD and CAT. Moreover, endogenous, melatonin was found to be a more effective antioxidant than exogenous 10 mg/kg melatonin. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.