Abstract The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of iron overload on gene expression in HepG2 cells by differential display. Iron-treated cells showed a 50% decrease in apolipoprotein B100 (Apo B100) and a 2- and 3-fold increase in semaphorin cd100 and aldose reductase mRNA, respectively, with parallel variations in Apo B100 and aldose reductase proteins. These effects were time-dependent. Vitamin E prevented the increase in aldose reductase expression, but had no effect on Apo B100 and semaphorin cd100. Treatment with hydrogen peroxide and 4-hydroxy-2,3-nonenal increased only aldose reductase mRNA. These data suggest that iron can affect mRNA levels by lipid peroxidation-dependent and -independent pathways.