We recently developed two biomarker sets for oxidative damage: one for determination of lipid peroxidation (LPO) degradation products; acetaldehyde, propanal, butanal, pentanal, hexanal, heptanal, octanal, nonanal, malondialdehyde and acetone, by a gas chromatography-electron capture detection method, and the other for protein oxidation products such as o,o'-dityrosine, by an isotope dilution high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. In the present study, we explored the possibility to utilize these biomarkers for determining the oxidative damage in liver mammalian cells in vitro. Two different treatments were chosen for inducing oxidative stress in Chinese Hamster ovary cells: menadione and copper plus hydrogen peroxide (Cu2+/H2O2). Cells were incubated with the model compounds in the presence or absence of vitamin E and C, and cytotoxicity was evaluated by a nuclear-dye method. Results were compared to two fluorescent probes, H2DCF-DA and C-11-BODIPY581/591, which have been used for determining the formation of free radicals in the cells. From ten LPO degradation products, eight were increased significantly following incubation with menadione in cell lysate or incubation media. Menadione-induced oxidative stress was also confirmed by oxidation of fluorescent probes. However, no increased formation of protein oxidation products was observed. Vitamin E and C did not diminish the formation of LPO degradation products that were increased by menadione. Although Cu2+/H2O2 did not induce oxidation of fluorescent probes, it induced formation of six out of ten LPO degradation products. Vitamin E and C did not diminish the formation of LPO degradation products; vitamin C even substantially increased the formation of acetaldehyde and propanal, which is in line with its reported prooxidant action under certain conditions. Vitamin C also caused two-fold increase in Cu2+/H2O2-induced o,o'-dityrosine formation when applied simultaneously. In conclusion, our present results show that the LPO biomarker set can be used for evaluation of oxidant capacity and the toxic potential of various chemicals in an in vitro cell model. These biomarkers might even be more sensitive than measuring protein oxidation products or oxidation of fluorescent probes. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.