Human glutathione transferases (GSTs) from Alpha (A), Mu (M) and Theta (T) classes exhibited glutathione peroxidase activity towards phospholipid hydroperoxide. The specific activities are in the order: GST A1-1>GST T1-1>GST M1-1>GST A2-2>GST A4-4. Using a specific and sensitive HPLC method, specific activities towards the phospholipid hydroperoxide, 1-palmitoyl-2-(13-hydroperoxy-cis-9,trans-11- octadecadienoyl)-L-3-phosphatidylcholine (PLPC-OOH) were determined to be in the range of 0.8-20 nmol/min per mg of protein. Two human class Pi (P) enzymes (GST P1-1 with Ile or Val at position 105) displayed no activity towards the phospholipid hydroperoxide. Michaelis-Menten kinetics were followed only for glutathione, whereas there was a linear dependence of rate with PLPC-OOH concentration. Unlike the selenium-dependent phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (Se-PHGPx), the presence of detergent inhibited the activity of GST A1-1 on PLPC-OOH. Also, in contrast with Se-PHGPx, only glutathione could act as the reducing agent for GST A1-1. A GST A1-1 mutant (Arg15Lys), which retains the positive charge between the GSH- and hydrophobic binding sites, exhibited a decreased k(cat) for PLPC-OOH but not for CDNB, suggesting that the correct topography of the GSH site is more critical for the phospholipid substrate. A Met208A1a mutation, which gives a modified hydrophobic site, decreased the k(cat) for CDNB and PLPC-OOH by comparable amounts. These results indicate that Alpha, Mu and Theta class human GSTs provide protection against accumulation of cellular phospholipid hydroperoxides.