This experimental study was designed to evaluate the degree of adhesion formation and peritoneal tissue levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), reduced glutathione (GSH) and nitric oxide (NO) and the effect of melatonin on these metabolites in a postoperative intraperitoneal adhesion formation model in rats. Thirty adult female Wistar albino rats were subjected to standardized lesions by cecal and uterine horn abrasion and were randomly divided into three groups. Control rats were treated with 5% ethanol. Melatonin treated rats received 4 mg/kg melatonin before closure and for 10 consecutive days intraperitoneally after surgery. Rats in the sham operation group underwent a surgical procedure similar to the other groups however the peritoneal abrasion was not performed. On postoperative day 10 relaparatomy was performed. After the assessment of the adhesions, the rats in each group were sacrificed and peritoneal tissues were harvested to determine the tissue levels of MDA, GSH and NO activity. Adhesion formation scores in the melatonin group were significantly lower than that of control and sham group (p < 0.01 and p < 0.02, respectively). Tissue levels of MDA and NO were significantly lower in the melatonin treated rats when compared with control and sham groups. The levels of GSH in the melatonin treated rats were significantly higher than those of control and sham groups (p < 0.01). The results demonstrate that in this experimental model, intraperitoneal administration of melatonin decreases the extent of peritoneal adhesions and causes a decrease in MDA and NO and an increase in GSH levels. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.