This study was designed to examine the in vitro antioxidant activities of the methanol extracts of six Salvia species [Salvia caespitosa Mombret & Aucher ex Bentham (ENDEMIC), Salvia hypargeia Fisch. & Mey. (ENDEMIC), Salvia euphratica subsp. euphratica Montbret & Aucher ex Bentham (ENDEMIC), Salvia sclarea L., Salvia candidissima subsp. candidissima Montbret & Aucher ex Bentham and Salvia aetdhiopis L.] from Turkey. The extracts were screened for their possible antioxidant activities by two complementary test systems, namely DPPH free radical-scavenging and beta-carotene/linoleic acid systems. Non-polar subfractions of the methanol extracts of Salvia species studied did not show any antioxidant activity in both test systems. In the first case, the most active plant was S. euphratica subsp. euphratica, an endemic species, with an IC50 value of 20.7 +/- 1.22 mu g/ml, followed by S. sclarea (IC50 = 23.4 +/- 0.97 mu g/ml) among the polar subfractions. In the beta-carotene/linoleic acid test system, polar extract of S. hypargeia was superior to the polar extracts of other Salvia species studied (69.2% +/- 1.90%). This activity was followed by S. sclarea with 63.51 +/- 4.24% inhibition rate. The inhibition rate of the synthetic antioxidant, buthylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), was also determined to be 96%. Since the polar extracts of Salvia species dealt with here exhibited excellent antioxidant activities when compared to BHT, it seems possible to keep perishable fat-containing food longer by direct addition of an extract of sage. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.