This study was conducted to investigate the potential for increased oxidative stress of high- vs. average-producing dairy cows. Two experiments were performed using 11 and 13 Holstein cows (53 +/- 2 d postpartum). Lipohydroperoxides (LHP) were determined in serum lipids (experiment 1) and low-density lipoprotein (experiment 2) via oxidation of ferrous to ferric ions through LHP using thiocyanate as chromogen. In experiment 1, differing milk yield and milk energy output corresponded to different concentrations of LHP. In experiment 2, analysis of regression resulted in a significant relationship between milk yield and LHP. Phospholipids isolated from lipids with 6.5 microM of LHP evoked in monocytic cells a transient increase in superoxide formation, indicating inflammatory potential. The results show that high milk productivity can associate with oxidative stress indicated by oxidative modifications of circulating lipids and their changed bioactivity.