Recent evidence shows that plant polyphenols exhibit antioxidant and radical scavenging properties. By three separate and complementary methods - DPPH assay, beta-carotene-linoleic acid assay and NBT-reduction assay it was established that a polyphenol-rich extract from the medicinal plant Geranium sanguineum L. with strong anti-influenza virus activity, possessed antioxidant and radical scavenging capacities. For comparative reasons caffeic acid and the synthetic antioxidant BHT were used. Total soluble phenolic constituents of the MeOH extract measured by Folin-Ciocalteu reagent were found as 34.60% (w/w). Further it was demonstrated that the EtOAc fraction, retaining the majority of the in vivo protective effect exhibited a strong O-2(-) scavenging activity while the n-BuOH fraction, containing the majority of the in vitro antiviral activity provoked generation of O-2(-). The O-2(-) scavenging activity of all three preparations correlated with the rate of the protective effect shown in the murine model of experimental influenza virus infection. The present results are in accordance with our intensive studies on the mode of the protective effect of the plant extract which showed positively that the protection may possibly be attributed to the combination of more than one biological activities and that the use of antioxidants might be an useful approach in the treatment of influenza infection. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.