Coenzyme Q10 is an endogenous lipid soluble antioxidant. Because oxidant stress may exacerbate some complications of diabetes mellitus, this study investigated the effects of subacute treatment with exogenous coenzyme Q10 (10 mg/kg/day, i.p. for 14 days) on tissue antioxidant defenses in 30-day streptozotocin-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats. Liver, kidney, brain, and heart were assayed for degree of lipid peroxidation, reduced and oxidized glutathione contents, and activities of catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione reductase. All tissues from diabetic animals exhibited increased oxidative stress and disturbances in antioxidant defense when compared with normal controls. Treatment with the lipophilic compound coenzyme Q10 reversed diabetic effects on hepatic glutathione peroxidase activity, on renal superoxide dismutase activity, on cardiac lipid peroxidation, and on oxidized glutathione concentration in brain. However, treatment with coenzyme Q10 also exacerbated the increase in cardiac catalase activity, which was already elevated by diabetes, further decreased hepatic glutathione reductase activity, augmented the increase in hepatic lipid peroxidation, and further increased glutathione peroxidase activity in the heart and brain of diabetic animals. Subacute dosing with coenzyme Q10 ameliorated some of the diabetes-induced changes in oxidative stress. However, exacerbation of several diabetes-related effects was also observed.