The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of passive cigarette smoking on the oxidative and anti-oxidative status of plasma in infants. Eighty-four infants aged 6-28 weeks were divided into two groups: the study group included infants who had been exposed to passive smoking via at least five cigarettes per day for at least the past 6 weeks at home, while the control group included infants who had never been exposed to passive smoking. The antioxidative status of plasma was assessed by the measurement of individual antioxidant components: vitamin C, albumin, bilirubin, uric acid, thiol contents and total antioxidant capacity (TAC 1 and TAC 2). Oxidative status was assessed by the determination of total peroxide levels and the oxidative stress index (OSI 1 and OSI 2). Plasma vitamin C, thiol concentration and TAC 1 and TAC 2 levels were significantly lower, whereas plasma total peroxide levels and OSI 1 and OSI 2 were significantly higher, in passive smoking infants than in the controls (P < 0.01). We conclude that passive smoking has a negative impact on numerous parts of the antioxidant defence system in infants, and exposes them to potent oxidative stress.