The stress responses and possible oxidative damage in plasma, liver and heart were investigated in broiler chickens acutely exposed to high temperature. Eighty 5-week old broiler chickens were exposed to 32 degrees C for 6h. The extent of lipid peroxidation, activities of superoxide dismutase and total antioxidant power in plasma, liver and heart tissues were investigated. Meanwhile, the blood metabolites such as glucose, urate, triiodothyronine, thyroxine, corticosterone, ceruloplasmin and creatine kinase were measured before and after 3 and 6h of heat exposure. The results showed that oxidative stress could be induced in 5-week old broiler chickens by acute heat exposure (32 degrees C, 6h). The results suggest that the elevated body temperature can induce the metabolic changes that are involved in the induction of oxidative stress. The liver is more susceptible to oxidative stress than heart during acute heat exposure in broiler chickens. The oxidative stress should be considered as part of the stress response of broiler chickens to heat exposure. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.