Reovirus type 2 (Reo-2) infection in DBA/1 sucking mice causes pancreatic islet-cell destruction, which results in a diabetes-like syndrome. To investigate the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS), the protective effect of dimethylthiourea (DMTU) was examined, this substance being an effective scavenger of hydroxyl radicals. The degree of cellular infiltration in and around pancreatic islets was the same in mice receiving either virus only or virus and DMTU. The latter had no effect on (1) the number or type of white blood cells, (2) lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1-alpha-positive splenocytes, or (3) viral multiplication in the pancreas. However, treatment with DMTU inhibited the elevation of blood glucose concentrations and reduced pancreatic islet-cell damage (beta-cell degranulation and necrosis). These results suggest that ROS play a role in the pathogenesis of Reo-2-induced diabetes-like syndrome.