Tobacco smoke contains large numbers of radicals that burden the antioxidant defense and, thus, lower plasma antioxidants, in particular vitamin C or ascorbic acid, is commonly observed among smokers. Ascorbic acid recycling describes the process in which ascorbic acid is oxidized to dehydroascorbic acid by various pathways and subsequently reduced back to ascorbic acid intracellularly, e.g., in erythrocytes, thereby preserving the ascorbic acid pool. In humans who are unable to synthesize ascorbic acid, and in smokers in particular, who are prone to oxidation, this process must be very efficient and of great importance. It has previously been reported that isolated erythrocytes subjected to tobacco smoke in vitro had significantly lower ascorbic acid recycling as compared to controls. In contrast to these findings, we now report that freshly isolated erythrocytes from long-term smokers (n = 39) display a significantly increased rate of ascorbic acid recycling in vivo as compared to those isolated from nonsmokers (n = 31; p <.0001). Preliminary data suggests that the increase results from induction of dehydroascorbic acid reductase activity rather than from differences in energy status, glutathione content, or altered transport capacity. The induction of ascorbic acid recycling as a potential adaptation mechanism of the antioxidant defense to oxidative insults is discussed.