BACKGROUND: We sought to evaluate the association between pre-hypertension status and oxidative stress markers (total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL)), in a random sample of cardiovascular disease-free adults. METHODS: The ATTICA study is a cross-sectional population-based survey that conducted in Attica region during 2001-2002. Based on a multistage and stratified random sampling, 1514 men and 1528 women (18-89 years old) were enrolled. The survey included a detailed interview; blood samples collected after 12h of fasting and, among other clinical measurements, status of blood pressure levels was evaluated. RESULTS: Six hundred and fifty-three men (43%) and 535 women (35%) were defined as pre-hypertensives. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were inversely correlated with TAC (p<0.001) and positively correlated to oxidized LDL (p<0.001). Particularly, compared to normotensive subjects, pre-hypertensives had 7% lower TAC levels (p<0.001) and 15% higher oxidized LDL levels (p<0.05), after correcting for multiple comparisons and adjusting for age, body mass index, blood lipids, glucose, food groups consumed and other potential confounders. CONCLUSIONS: Studying a large sample of cardiovascular disease-free adults, we revealed an association of pre-hypertension with oxidative stress markers linking to atherosclerotic process.