Antioxidant enzymes in erythrocytes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and antioxidant sex hormone oestradiol in serum and malondialdehyde (MDA) production as a marker of lipid peroxidation in erythrocytes were investigated in male and female underwater rugby (UWR) players. Results showed that except for GSH-Px activity in female players, all antioxidant enzymes increased significantly (p < 0.05) after an UWR game. It was interesting to note that while the concentration of oestradiol in female players did not change, it increased significantly (p < 0.05) in male players. Lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels in female players as well as oestradiol concentration did not change significantly (p > 0.05) whereas LPO levels in male players increased significantly (p < 0.05) compared to pre-exercise values. In conclusion, the results showed that underwater rugby can stimulate over-production of ROS and antioxidant systems and affect oestradiol levels in male players. Because of increased LPO levels observed in male players, complex antioxidant supplementation including co-factors of antioxidant enzymes such as Cu, Zn, Fe, Se and antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and E may be recommended to players before the UWR game. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.