The present study aimed to investigate the effects of pentoxifylline (PTX) on the carrageenan (CG)-induced paw oedema and on the endogenous levels of cell enzyme and non-enzyme antioxidants in rat liver, 4 and 24 h after CG injection. PTX (50 mg kg−1, i.p.), administered 30 min before CG, decreased the paw oedema, 2–4 h after CG administration. The drug protected CG-induced decrease of glutathione (non-enzyme antioxidant) and had no effect on CG-unchanged activities of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase (enzyme antioxidants) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (enzyme, important for the activity of GSH-conjugated antioxidant enzymes). The drug showed a good antioxidant capacity in chemical systems, generating reactive oxygen species. The present results suggest that the antioxidant activity of PTX might contribute to its beneficial effects in liver injuries. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.