Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. In the present study, reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities were examined in cultured cortical, striatal and mesencephalic mouse astrocytes after 1- methyl,4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) or 1-methyl-4- phenylpyridinium (MPP+) treatment. Linear regression analysis showed that control mesencephalic (slope coefficient = 0.01) astrocytes had a three-fold (F-test, p < 0.05) greater rate of change in ROS production when compared to cortical (0.003) or striatal (0.003) astrocytes. However, when treated with 500 μM MPTP for 120 min, mesencephalic and striatal astrocytes demonstrated a decreased and increased rate of change in ROS production respectively. On the other hand, when treated with 10 μM MPP+, a significant increase in the rate of change in ROS formation was observed in both mesencephalic and striatal astrocytes, with mesencephalic astrocytes producing a four-fold greater increase when compared to striatal astrocytes. Cortical astrocytes did not show any significant changes in ROS production when treated with MPTP or MPP+. When astrocytes were treated with MPTP over a 24 h period, striatal astrocytes demonstrated significant increases in SOD activity to 12 h, followed by a return towards control levels after 8 h treatment. In contrast, mesencephalic astrocytes showed trends for a decrease in SOD production as well as a significant decrease in ATP levels by 24 h MPTP treatment. The present results suggested that mesencephalic astrocytes are more vulnerable to oxidative stress when compared to striatal astrocytes, given their greater rates of ROS production at basal and MPP+ conditions. Striatal astrocytes, on the other hand, may have a more protective capacity against oxidative stress by producing greater SOD activities.