This study was designed to determine the effect of melatonin treatment on the glutathione (GSH) and lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels in the skin as well as prothrombin time (PT) and fibrin degradation products (FDPs) in the blood of rats with thermal injury. Under ether anaesthesia, the shaved dorsum of the rats was exposed to 90degreesC bath for 10 s to induce burn injury. Rats were decapitated either 3 or 24 hours after burn injury. Melatonin (10 mg/ kg) was administered i.p. immediately after burn injury to same animals. In the 24 hour burn group, melatonin injections were repeated for two more occasions 8 and 16 h after burn injury. In the control group the same protocol was applied except that the dorsum was exposed to a 25degreesC water bath for 10 s. Severe skin scald injury (30% of total body surface area) caused a significant decrease in PT at post burn 3 and 24 hours. FDPs was not increased at post burn 3 hour but was significantly increased at post burn 24 hour. GSH levels were significantly depressed at post burn 3 hour but were not changed at post burn 24 hour. LPO levels were significantly increased both at post burn 3 and 24 hours. Skin protein levels were significantly reduced at post burn 24 hour as evidenced by electrophoresis. Treatment of rats with melatonin normalized PT levels both at post burn 3 and 24 hours. FDP decreased at post burn 24 hour due to melatonin treatment. GSH levels significantly increased as a result of melatonin treatment both at post burn 3 and 24 hours melatonin treatment. LPO levels were not changed by melatonin at post burn 3 hour; however, the melatonin significantly decreased LPO values at post burn 24 hours. In conclusion, exogenously administered melatonin reduced skin oxidant damage and normalized the activated blood coagulation induced by thermal trauma. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.