The aim of this study was to assess the association between smoking, food consumption, and antioxidant vitamin intake and plasma indexes of oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses in French adults. Food and nutrient intakes of 459 healthy men aged 23--57 y were estimated by the diet history method and analyzed by smoking status. Plasma alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and carotenoids were measured as antioxidants and malondialdehyde, protein Schiff bases, and autoantibodies against malondialdehyde-protein adducts as oxidative stress indexes. Smokers ate less fruit and vegetables than nonsmokers, leading to lower vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotene intakes, even after adjustment for age, education, and marital status. Unlike vitamin E, plasma ascorbic acid and beta-carotene concentrations were reduced in smokers compared with nonsmokers and were inversely related to cigarette consumption. This difference remained significant after adjustment for alcohol and dietary intakes. Among the measured oxidative stress indexes, only Schiff base concentration was positively related to the number of cigarettes smoked. In our sample of French men, smoking had an adverse effect on antioxidant status; vitamin intakes were reduced in smokers and plasma antioxidant indexes were altered independently of dietary intakes. As in other countries, in France smokers require particular attention in terms of public health intervention. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;67:231-9.