Oxidative damage contributes to cone cell death in retinitis pigmentosa and death of rods, cones, and retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells in age-related macular degeneration. In this study, we explored the strategy of overexpressing components of the endogenous antioxidant defense system to combat oxidative damage in RPE cells and retina. In transfected cultured RPE cells with increased expression of superoxide dismutase1 (SOD1) or SOD2, there was increased constitutive and stress-induced oxidative damage measured by the level of carbonyl adducts on proteins. In contrast, RPE cells with increased expression of glutathione peroxidase 1 (Gpx1) or Gpx4 did not show an increase in constitutive oxidative damage. An increase in Gpx4, and to a lesser extent Gpx1, reduced oxidative stress-induced RPE cell damage. Co-expression of Gpx4 with SOD1 or 2 partially reversed the deleterious effects of the SODs. Transgenic mice with inducible expression of Gpx4 in photoreceptors were generated, and in three models of oxidative damage-induced retinal degeneration, increased expression of Gpx4 provided strong protection of retinal structure and function. These data suggest that gene therapy approaches to augment the activity of Gpx4 in the retina and RPE should be considered in patients with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration.