Abstract: Neuroprotection provided by melatonin has been shown to be more relevant in vivo than in neuronal cultures. Given the role of astrocytes in neuronal support and protection, studies were initiated to elucidate the possible protective effect of the antioxidant melatonin against oxidative stress in these cells. Both low and high concentrations of melatonin were able to protect astrocytes with even higher efficiency than the known antioxidant glutathione (GSH). The mechanisms involved may be different for high (1 mm) and low (100 nm) concentrations of the indole. The GSH cycling appeared not to be involved in the protection at high doses. High doses of melatonin neither influenced GSH levels nor gene expression for the several antioxidant enzymes studied; thus, melatonin's protective effect was likely because of its free radical scavenging action in this case. However, melatonin concentrations in the nanomolar range require the presence of GSH to be effective. No increase in GSH synthesis was found, but low doses of melatonin increased gene expression and activity of glutathione peroxidase. As this enzyme requires GSH as substrate to be active, this may be the reason why the effect of this melatonin concentration is GSH dependent. In vivo, melatonin levels exhibit a wide range of concentrations with much lower levels in the blood and significantly higher concentrations in other body fluids and within cells. Thus, melatonin may normally function as an indirect and direct antioxidant in vivo.