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The oxidative action of quinolinic acid (QUIN), and the protective effects of glutathione (GSH), and 2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV), were tested in rat brain synaptosomes, Reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation was quantified after the exposure of synaptosomes to increasing concentrations of QUIN (25–500 μM). The potency of QUIN to induce lipid peroxidation (LP) was tested as a regional index of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) production, and the antioxidant actions of both GSH (50 μM) and APV (250 μM) on QUIN-induced LP were evaluated in synapto somes prepared from different brain regions. QUIN induced concentration-dependent increases in ROS formation and TBARS in all regions analyzed, but increased production of fluorescent peroxidized lipids only in the striatum and the hippocampus, whereas both GSH and APV decreased this index. These results suggest that the excitotoxic action of QUIN involves regional selectivity in the oxidative status of brain synaptosomes, and may be prevented by substances exhibiting antagonism at the NMDA receptor.