Loading of skeletal muscles is associated with increased generation of oxidants, which in turn may impair muscle contractility. We investigated whether the load on the hamster diaphragm imposed by pulmonary emphysema induces oxidative stress, as indicated by glutathione oxidation, and whether the degree of glutathione oxidation is correlated with contractility of the diaphragm. In addition, the effect of 12 wk of treadmill exercise training on contractility and glutathione content in the normal (NH) and emphysematous hamster (EH) diaphragm was investigated. Training started 6 mo after elastase instillation. After the training period, glutathione content and in vitro contractility of the diaphragm were determined. Twitch force and maximal tetanic force were significantly reduced (by approximately 30 and approximately 15%, respectively) in EH compared with NH. In sedentary hamsters, the GSSG-to-GSH ratio was significantly elevated in the EH compared with the NH diaphragm. A significant inverse correlation was found between GSSG-to-GSH ratio and twitch force in the diaphragm (P <0. 01). Training improved maximal tetanic force and reduced fatigability of the EH diaphragm but did not alter its glutathione content. In conclusion, 1) emphysema induces oxidative stress in the diaphragm, 2) training improves the contractile properties of the EH diaphragm, and 3) this improvement is not accompanied by changes in glutathione redox status.