The aim of this study was to evaluate maternal-fetal plasma adenosine deaminase, xanthine oxidase (ADA, XO) activity and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and the relationship between them in pre-eclampsia. Maternal and umbilical cord whole blood samples were taken from 29 pre-eclamptic and 33 normal pregnants. The plasma ADA, XO activities as well as MDA levels were assayed by spectrophotometric methods. MDA levels and ADA, XO activities were found to be higher in maternal and fetal plasma in pre-eclamptics than in normal pregnancy. The differences were statistically significant between groups (p < 0.05). Increased maternal-fetal plasma XO and ADA activities, its a marker of immunological disorder, may be related to the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia. In addition, increased MDA levels may be a reflection of increased oxidative stress in pre-eclamptics and their fetuses. Copyright (c) 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.