The determinants of normal and leukemic stem cell self-renewal remain poorly characterized. We report that expression of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger glutathione peroxidase 3 (GPx3) positively correlates with the frequency of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in Hoxa9+Meis1-induced leukemias. Compared with a leukemia with a low frequency of LSCs, a leukemia with a high frequency of LSCs showed hypomethylation of the Gpx3 promoter region, and expressed high levels of Gpx3 and low levels of ROS. LSCs and normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) engineered to express Gpx3 short hairpin RNA (shRNA) were much less competitive in vivo than control cells. However, progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation was not affected by Gpx3 shRNA. Consistent with this, HSCs overexpressing Gpx3 were significantly more competitive than control cells in long-term repopulation experiments, and overexpression of the self-renewal genes Prdm16 or Hoxb4 boosted Gpx3 expression. In human primary acute myeloid leukemia samples, GPX3 expression level directly correlated with adverse prognostic outcome, revealing a potential novel target for the eradication of LSCs.