Objective: to investigate the impact of craniotomy on oxidative stress and its effect on levels of plasma L-carnitine (LC). Methods: plasma levels of reactive oxygen species, superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathion peroxidase (GSH-Px), catalase (CAT), total antioxidative capacity (T-AOC), and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) were measured in 34 patients (26 males and 8 females, mean age 47.7 ± 6.7 years) before and after craniotomy. Plasma levels of LC, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), and propionyl-L-carnitine (PLC) were also measured before and after the craniotomy. Results: the plasma concentrations of SOD, GSH-Px, CAT, and T-AOC within the first 4 h after craniotomy were lower than their baseline values (P < 0.05). There were no statistically significant differences in the mean plasma levels of SOD, GSH-Px, CAT, or T-AOC between the baseline and 24 h post-operative values. The level of TBARS at 4 h after the craniotomy was lower than the pre-operative level (P < 0.05), but the 24 h post-operative value was similar to the baseline concentration (P > 0.05). Plasma levels of LC, ALC, and PLC were lower after the craniotomy (P < 0.05), but these levels returned to the baseline levels 24 h after the operation. Conclusions: craniotomy and the associated procedures for surgery/anesthesia temporarily reduce antioxidant activity and plasma levels of L-carnitine.