The objective of the present study was to investigate age-related differences in erythrocyte membrane fluidity (EMF) and changes in antioxidant capacity following supplementation. A total of seventy-four children were randomly divided into two groups: group A1 was the placebo-controlled group and group A2 was supplemented daily with 600 μg retinol, 1·0 mg β-carotene, 100 mg tocopherol, 300 mg ascorbic acid and 200 μg Se. A total of ninety young people were randomly divided into B1 and B2 groups, and ninety-one elderly subjects were divided into C1 and C2 groups. Groups B1 and C1 were placebo-controlled groups, and groups B2 and C2 were daily supplemented with 900 μg retinol, 1·5 mg β-carotene, 200 mg tocopherol, 500 mg ascorbic acid and 400 μg Se. Results showed that plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) was 5·35 μmol/l in children, which was lower than in young and elderly people. The MDA levels of the young and elderly individuals in the treated groups were significantly lower compared with the control groups, but the supplementation did not alter MDA levels in children. At baseline, there was a lower value of polarisation (ρ) and microviscosity (η) in children, indicating a higher EMF, than in both the young and elderly subjects. After the 2-month trial, the ρ and η values of young and elderly subjects in the treated groups decreased significantly in comparison with the placebo groups, indicating an increase in EMF. In conclusion, there was a background of higher MDA levels and lower EMF in young and elderly people than in children, which could be improved by antioxidant supplementation.