Abstract Ubiquinol-10, the reduced form of ubiquinone-10 (coenzyme Q 10), is a potent lipophilic antioxidant present in nearly all human tissues. The exceptional oxidative lability of ubiquinol-10 implies that it may represent a sensitive index of oxidative stress. The present study was undertaken to assess the hypothesis that the level of ubiquinol-10 in human plasma can discriminate between healthy subjects and patients who are expected to be subjected to an increased oxidative stress in vivo. Using a newly developed method, we measured plasma ubiquinol-10 in 38 hyperlipidaemic patients with and without further complications, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, or liver disease, and in 30 healthy subjects. The oxidizability of plasma samples obtained from hyperlipidaemic patients was found to be increased in comparison with control subjects, suggesting that the patients were subjected to a higher oxidative stress in vivo than the controls. Plasma ubiquinol-10, expressed as a percentage of total ubiquinol-10+ubiquinone-10 or normalized to plasma lipids, was lower in the patients than in controls ( P=0.001 and 0.008, respectively). The proportion of ubiquinol-10 decreased in the order young controls>aged controls>hyperlipidaemic patients without complications >hyperlipidaemic patients with complications ( P=0.003). A negative correlation was found between the proportion of ubiquinol-10 and plasma triglycerides. The hyperlipidaemic patients with hypertension had a lower proportion of ubiquinol-10 than subjects without. When the study population was divided into smokers and non-smokers, plasma ubiquinol-10 was found to be reduced amongst smokers, independently of whether it was expressed as a percentage of total ubiquinol-10+ubiquinone-10 ( P=0.006) or normalized to plasma lipids ( P=0.009). These data suggest that the level of ubiquinol-10 in human plasma may represent a sensitive index of oxidative stress in vivo especially indicative of early oxidative damage. Measuring plasma ubiquinol-10 can be proposed as a practical approach to assess oxidative stress in humans.