Hydroxytyrosol is one of the o-diphenolic compounds in extra virgin olive oil and has been suggested to be a potent antioxidant. The superoxide radical (O2*-) and nitric oxide (NO*) can react very rapidly to form peroxynitrite (ONOO ), a reactive tissue damaging species thought to be involved in the pathology of several chronic diseases. Hydroxytyrosol was highly protective against the peroxynitrite-dependent nitration of tyrosine and DNA damage by peroxynitrite in vitro. Given that extra virgin olive oil is consumed daily by many humans, hydroxytyrosol derived from this diet could conceivably provide a defense against damage by oxidants in vivo. The biological activity of hydroxytyrosol in vivo will depend on its intake, uptake and access to cellular compartments.