An imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in the circulation is blamed to cause preeclampsia and eclampsia. In this study plasma ascorbic acid level was analysed in 13 eclamptic, 14 mild preeclamptic, 12 severe preeclamptic and 20 uncomplicated pregnancies to see whether there is any correlation with blood pressure, proteinuria, serum triglyceride level, erythrocyte fragility and leukocyte count. Plasma ascorbic acid level was normal and had no significant difference among the groups. Fasting serum triglyceride level was significantly higher in the study group than in the control group but it did not differ among the three study groups. Erythrocyte fragility was found to be increased in all three study groups. Blood leukocyte count was increased in the study groups, especially in the eclampsia group. However, plasma ascorbic acid level and erythrocyte fragility were found to have no significant correlation with blood pressure and proteinuria. It was concluded that though the ascorbic acid levels were normal in both the study and the control groups, erythrocyte fragility increased probably due to an elevation in peroxide and free radical levels in preeclampsia and eclampsia groups, but-without any correlation with the severity of the clinical picture. Copyright (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.