Microsomes from chronic ethanol-fed rats were previously shown to catalyze the NADPH-dependent production of reactive oxygen intermediates at elevated rates compared to controls. Recent studies have shown that NADH can also serve as a reductant and promote the production of oxygen radicals by microsomes. The current study evaluated the influence of chronic ethanol consumption on NADH-dependent microsomal production of reactive oxygen intermediates, and compared the results with NADH to those of NADPH. Microsomal oxidation of chemical scavengers, taken as a reflection of the production of hydroxyl radical (.OH)-like species was increased about 50% with NADH as cofactor and about 100% with NADPH after chronic ethanol consumption. The potent inhibition of the production of .OH-like species by catalase suggests a precursor role for H2O2 in .OH production. Rates of NADH- and NADPH-dependent H2O2 production were increased by about 50 and 70%, respectively, after chronic ethanol consumption. A close correlation between rates of H2O2 production and generation of .OH-like species was observed for both NADH and NADPH, and increased rates of H2O2 production appear to play an important role in the elevated generation of .OH-like species after chronic ethanol treatment. Microsomal lipid peroxidation was elevated about 60% with NADH, and 120% with NADPH, after ethanol feeding. With both types of microsomal preparations, the characteristics of the NADH-dependent reactions were similar to the NADPH-dependent reactions, e.g., sensitivity to antioxidants and free radical scavengers and catalytic effectiveness of ferric complexes. However, rates with NADPH exceeded the NADH-dependent rates by 50 to 100%, and the increased production of reactive oxygen intermediates by microsomes after ethanol treatment was greater with NADPH (about twofold) than with NADH (about 50%). Oxidation of ethanol results in an increase in hepatic NADH levels and interaction of NADH, iron, and microsomes can produce potent oxidants capable of initiating lipid peroxidation and oxidizing .OH scavengers. These acute metabolic interactions produced by ethanol-derived NADH are increased, not attenuated, in microsomes from chronic ethanol-fed rats, and it is possible that such increases in NADH (and NADPH)-dependent production of reactive oxygen species play a role in the development of oxidative stress in the liver as a consequence of ethanol treatment.