In the present study, we have studied the effect of KBrO3 on human erythrocytes under in vitro conditions. Erythrocytes were isolated from the blood of healthy nonsmoking volunteers and incubated with different concentrations of KBrO3 at 37°C for 60 min. This resulted in marked hemolysis in a KBrO3-concentration dependent manner. Lysates were prepared from KBrO3-treated and control erythrocytes and assayed for various parameters. KBrO3 treatment caused significant increase in protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, hydrogen peroxide levels, and decrease in total sulfhydryl content, which indicates induction of oxidative stress in human erythrocytes. Methemoglobin levels and methemoglobin reductase activity were significantly increased while the total antioxidant power of lysates was greatly reduced upon KBrO3 treatment. Intracellular production of reactive oxygen species increased in a dose dependent manner. Exposure of erythrocytes to KBrO3 also caused decrease in the activities of catalase, glutathione peroxidase, thioredoxin reductase, glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase and glutathione reductase whereas the activities of Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase and glutathione-S-transferase were increased. These results show that KBrO3 induces oxidative stress in human erythrocytes through the generation of reactive oxygen species and alters the cellular antioxidant defense system. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 138–145, 2014.