Hyperglycemia causes protein glycosylation, oxidation and alterations in enzyme activities, which are the underlying causes of diabetic complications. This study was undertaken to test the role of vitamin E treatment on Ca2+-ATPase activity; protein glycosylation and lipid peroxidation in the brain of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Male rats weighing about 250-300 g were rendered diabetic by a single STZ injection of 50 mg/kg via the tail vein. Both the diabetic and non-diabetic rats were fed a vitamin E supplemented diet (500 IU/kg/day). Ca2+-ATPase activity was significantly reduced at week 10 of diabetes compared to the control group (p < 0.05), with 0.225 +/- 0.021 U/l (mean +/- S.E.M.) in the control group and 0.072 +/- 0.008 U/l (mean +/- S.E.M.) in the diabetic group. Vitamin E treatment prevented the enzyme activity from decreasing. The activities observed were 0.226 +/- 0.020 U/l and 0.172 +/- 0.011 U/l (mean +/- S.E.M.) in the vitamin E-treated control and diabetic group, respectively. STZ-induced diabetes resulted in an increased protein glycosylation and lipid peroxidation. Vitamin E treatment led to a significant inhibition in blood glucose, protein glycosylation and lipid peroxidation, which in turn prevented abnormal activity of the enzyme in the brain. This study indicates that vitamin E supplementation may reduce complications of diabetes in the brain.