Observational epidemiologic studies of dietary antioxidant intake, serum antioxidant concentration, and lung outcomes suggest that lower levels of antioxidant defenses are associated with decreased lung function. Another approach to understanding the role of oxidant/antioxidant imbalance in risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is to investigate the role of genetic variation in antioxidant enzymes, and indeed family-based studies suggest a heritable component to lung disease. Many studies of the genes encoding antioxidant enzymes have considered COPD or COPD-related outcomes, and a systematic review is needed to summarise the evidence to date, and to provide insights for further research. Genetic association studies of antioxidant enzymes and COPD/COPD-related traits, and comparative gene expression studies with disease or smoking as the exposure were systematically identified and reviewed. Antioxidant enzymes considered included enzymes involved in glutathione (GSH) metabolism, in the thioredoxin (TXN) system, superoxide dismutases (SOD), and catalase (CAT). A total of 29 genetic association and 15 comparative gene expression studies met the inclusion criteria. The strongest and most consistent effects were in the genes GCL, GSTM1, GSTP1, and SOD3. This review also highlights the lack of studies for genes of interest, particularly GSR, GGT, and those related to TXN. There were limited opportunities to evaluate a gene's contribution to disease risk through a synthesis of results from different study designs, as the majority of studies considered either association of sequence variants with disease or effect of disease on gene expression. Network-driven approaches that consider potential interaction between genes and amoung genes, smoke exposure, and antioxidant intake are needed to fully characterise the role of oxidant/antioxidant balance in pathogenesis.