Methyl parathion (MP), an organophosphate widely applied in agriculture and aquaculture, induces oxidative stress due to free radical generation and changes in the antioxidant defense system. The antioxidant roles of selenium (Se) were evaluated in Brycon cephalus exposed to 2 mg L(-1) of Folisuper 600 BR (MP commercial formulation - MPc, 600 g L(-1)) for 96 h. Catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione S-transferase (GST), reduced glutathione (GSH) and lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels in the gills, white muscle and liver were evaluated in fish fed on diets containing 0 or 1.5 mg Se kg(-1) for 8 weeks. In fish treated with a Se-free diet, the MPc exposure increased SOD and CAT activities in all tissues. However, the GPx activity decreased in white muscle and gills whereas no alterations were observed in the liver. MPc also increased GST activity in all tissues with a concurrent decrease in GSH levels. LPO values increased in white muscle and gills and did not change in liver after MPc exposure. A Se-supplemented diet reversed these findings, preventing increases in LPO levels and concurrent decreases in GPx activity in gills and white muscle. Similarly, GSH levels were maintained in all tissue after MPc exposure. These results suggest that dietary Se supplementation protects cells against MPc-induced oxidative stress.