Exercise training has been used for treatment/prevention of many cardiovascular diseases, but the mechanisms need to be clarified. Thus, our aim was to compare oxidative stress parameters between rats submitted to a swimming training and sedentary rats (control). Twelve male rats were divided into two groups: control and exercise training. The exercise training had daily 1 h swimming sessions for 8 weeks and a load (5% of its body mass) was placed in rat's tail. Thereafter the animals were killed, aorta and heart were surgically removed and blood was collected. Body mass gain, thiobarbituric acid reactive species (TBARS), carbonyl content, total reactive antioxidant potential (TRAP), total antioxidant reactivity (TAR), superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and catalase (CAT) activity were evaluted. The trained rats showed a lower body mass gain and no modifications on heart. An increased SOD activity was observed on aorta after the training, but no changes were seen for CAT activity, which led to an increased SOD/CAT ratio. The arterial TBARS was also increased for trained rats. The decrease in TRAP in exercise training was the single modification on plasma. Our findings suggest that the increased SOD activity could play a role in vascular adaptations to exercise training. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.