Hydroxyl radicals ((center dot)OH) generated in the human body may play an important role in tissue injury at sites of inflammation in oxidative stress-originated diseases. As a more convenient, efficient, and less costly alternative to HPLC/electrochemical detection techniques and to the nonspecific, low-yield deoxyribose (TBARS) test, we used a salicylate probe for detecting (center dot)OH generated by the reaction of iron(II)-EDTA complex with H(2)O(2). The produced hydroxyl radicals attack both the salicylate probe and the hydroxyl radical scavengers that are incubated in solution for 10 min. Added radical scavengers compete with salicylate for the (center dot)OH produced, and diminish chromophore formation from Cu(II)-neocuproine. At the end of the incubation period, the reaction was stopped by adding catalase. With the aid of this reaction, a kinetic approach was adopted to assess the hydroxyl radical scavenging properties of polyphenolics, flavonoids and other compounds (e.g., ascorbic acid, glucose, mannitol). A second-order rate constant for the reaction of the scavenger with (center dot)OH could be deduced from the inhibition of colour formation due to the salicylate probe. In addition to phenolics and flavonoids, five kinds of herbs were evaluated for their (center dot)OH scavenging activity using the developed method. The modified CUPRAC (cupric ion reducing antioxidant capacity) assay proved to be efficient for ascorbic acid, gallic acid and chlorogenic acid, for which the deoxyribose assay test is basically nonresponsive. An important contribution of this developed assay is the inhibition of the Fenton reaction with catalase degradation of hydrogen peroxide so that the remaining H(2)O(2) would neither give a CUPRAC absorbance nor involve in redox cycling of phenolic antioxidants, enabling the rapid assay of polyphenolics. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.