The interrelationship between physical exercise, antioxidant supplementation, oxidative stress and plasma levels of homocysteine (Hcy) has not been adequately examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of 2 months of vitamin E supplementation (800 IU/day alpha-tocopherol) (E) or placebo (P) in 38 triathletes on plasma Hcy concentrations, antioxidant potential and oxidative stress. It was hypothesized that vitamin E supplementation would reduce plasma Hcy and oxidative stress markers compared to placebo. Blood samples were collected 1 day prior to the race, immediately postrace and 1.5 h postrace. Plasma alpha-tocopherol was 75% higher (P<.001) in E versus P prerace (24.1+/-1.1 and 13.8+/-1.1 micromol/L, respectively), and this group difference was maintained throughout the race. Cortisol was significantly increased in both E and P (P<.001), but there was no difference in the pattern of change. There were no significant time, group or interaction effects on plasma Hcy concentrations between E and P. Plasma F(2)-isoprostanes increased 181% versus 97% during the race in E versus P, and lipid hydroperoxides were significantly elevated (P=.009) 1.5 h postrace in E versus P. Plasma antioxidant potential was significantly higher 1.5 h postrace in E versus P (P=.039). This study indicates that prolonged large doses of alpha-tocopherol supplementation did not affect plasma Hcy concentrations and exhibited pro-oxidant characteristics in highly trained athletes during exhaustive exercise.