This study was designed to investigate the effect of crush and axotomy on oxidative stress and some trace element levels in phrenic nerve of rats. Eighteen male Wistar-albino rats were divided randomly into three groups, each consisting of 6 rats. The animals in the first group were not crushed or axotomized and served as control. Phrenic nerves of the animals in the second and third groups were crushed and axotomized, respectively. Animals in all groups were sacrificed one week after the crush or axotomy, and degenerated phrenic nerves were harvested for the determination of tissue oxidative stress and trace element levels. Lipid peroxidation product malondialdehyde and antioxidant glutathione levels increased in both crushed and axotomized phrenic nerves. The activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase were lower in crushed and axotomized phrenic nerves than in controls. The levels of Fe, Pb, Mn, Cd and Co increased, and Mg and Cu levels decreased in crushed phrenic nerves. The levels of Fe and Mg decreased, Pb and Co levels increased in axotomized phrenic nerves. It was concluded that crushing or axotomizing the phrenic nerves may produce oxidative stress by increasing lipid peroxidation and decresing antioxidant enzyme activities. It was also concluded that while crush to phrenic nerves causes accumulation of minerals, axotomizing phrenic nerves causes depletion of minerals in the tissues. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.