In the present investigation, we studied the effect of recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) on serum malondialdehyde (MDA) as an index of lipid peroxidation, related to iron-catalyzed free radical reaction and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activities in very-low-birth weight (VLBW) infants. Forty premature infants, at gestational ages were less than 33 weeks and birthweights were less than 1,500 g, were enrolled in the study. The study population was randomly divided into 2 groups. Twenty infants in Group 1 (treatment group) were given r-HuEPO, and 20 infants in Group 2 served as the control. r-HuEPO treatment (750 U/kg a week) was initiated on the 10th day of life and continued for 6 weeks. Preterm infants given erythrocyte transfusions during the study were excluded from the results. Serum ferritin and MDA levels, and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activities were analyzed at the end of the first week of life (at the beginning of the study). Subsequently, serum ferritin, and MDA levels were measured at the end of the 3rd and the 6th week. SOD, CAT, and GPX activities in the hemolysate were analyzed at the end of the 4th week. Six infants in the control group and 1 infant in the r-HuEPO group received transfusions through the end of the study, and these infants were excluded from the results. Significantly decreased serum ferritin concentrations were found in the r-HuEPO group compared to those in the control group both at the end of the 3rd and the 6th week (P < 0.05, and P < 0.01, respectively). In addition, serum MDA levels were also significantly reduced in Group 1 compared to control both at the end of the 3rd and the 6th week (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). A good correlation was found between serum MDA and ferritin levels in Group 1. When the 2 groups were compared with respect to activities of SOD, CAT, and GPX at the end of the 4th week, no differences were observed. Our findings in this study show that administration of r-HuEPO significantly decreases lipid peroxidation, but does not affect erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme(s) activities in preterm infants. The mechanism responsible for the r-HuEPO-induced decrease in lipid peroxidation may concern inhibition to iron-catalyzed free radical reactions.