Background: Free radicals play an important role in brain damage induced by a head trauma. In this study, we examined the prevention of brain damage that occurs after oxidative stress in rats that had undergone an experimental head trauma and the determination of plasma levels of vitamin E and selenium, which are recognized as antioxidant agents. Methods: In this study, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were used. Rats were divided into 2 groups. In the first group (control group, n = 10), pretraumatic plasma selenium and vitamin E levels were investigated and rats were not traumatized. In the second group (trauma group, n = 10), posttraumatic plasma selenium and vitamin E levels were investigated at the 6th and 24th hours in traumatized rats. Results: In the control group, the plasma selenium level was 107 8.113 mu g/L, whereas vitamin E level was 1.310 +/- 0.048 mg/dL. In the trauma group, the plasma selenium level was 79.93 +/- 3.130,mu g/L at the 6th hour and 74.74 2.947,mu g/L at the 24th hour, whereas the vitamin E level was 1.211 0.056 mg/dL at the 6th hour and 1.136 0.044 mg/dL at the 24th hour. Normal plasma selenium and vitamin E levels were significantly reduced in the early period after trauma. Conclusion: Because of oxidative stress that occurs directly after a head trauma, vitamin E and selenium depletion occurs in the early period. This condition supports the idea that brain damage can be reduced if decreased antioxidants are replaced when a head trauma occurs. We believe that these findings will guide and assist in future studies to develop clinical management strategies to prevent brain damage induced by head trauma. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.