The current study was carried out to determine the effects of alpha-lipoic acid (LA) supplementation during late-gestation and lactation on antioxidative ability and performance of sows and their nursing piglets. A total of 160 multiparous sows were randomly allocated to four treatments with 40 replicates per treatment according to parity number and backfat (BF) thickness. Sows were fed 1 of 4 diets from day 85 of gestation to day 21 of lactation. Diets were control without LA; 400 ppm LA supplementation; 600 ppm LA supplementation; and 800 ppm LA supplementation. BF thickness of sows was determined on day 85 and 110 of gestation and days 1 and 21 of lactation. Piglet bodyweight was measured at birth, days 7, 14 and 21. Blood samples were obtained from the sows, and average daily feed intake (ADFI) of the sows during lactation was recorded. There were no differences in BF thickness or ADFI among treatment groups. Dietary LA supplementation resulted in a decrease in blood urea nitrogen (p < 0.01) concentration at days 110 of gestation. Dietary 800 ppm LA increased serum glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity (p < 0.05) and reduced maleic dialdehyde levels (p < 0.01) of sows compared with the control diet at days 21 of lactation. Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation increased the birthweight and weaning weight of piglets (p < 0.01) compared with the control group. Weight gains of piglets from sows fed the 800 ppm LA diets were greater (p < 0.01) between days 7 and 14 compared with piglets from control sows. Weight gains of piglets from sows fed the LA-supplemented diets were greater between days 14 and 21 (p < 0.05) and between days 1 and 21 (p < 0.01) compared with piglets from control-fed sows. In conclusion, the results indicate that antioxidant LA was effective in enhancing antioxidant enzymes activity and improving the performance of sows and their nursing piglets.