Whey is used as an additive in food industry and a dietary supplement in nutrition. Here we report a comparative analysis of antioxidant potential of whey and its fractions. Fractions were obtained by size exclusion chromatography, before and after enzymatic digestion with pepsin or trypsin. Superoxide radical scavenging, lipid peroxidation inhibition and cupric ion reducing activities of different fractions were checked. Peptides were detected by SDS-PAGE and GC-MS was used to determine carbohydrate content of the fractions. All samples showed antioxidant activity and the second fraction of the trypsin hydrolysate showed the highest superoxide radical scavenging activity. CUPRAC value of this fraction was two-times higher than that of whey filtrate. The first fraction of the pepsin hydrolysate was the most effective inhibitor of lipid peroxidation. Each sample exhibited a different polypeptide profile. Different percentages of carbohydrates were identified in whey filtrate and in all second fractions, where galactose was the major component. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.