We studied the effects of aminoguanidine (AG), beta-resorcylidene aminoguanidine (RAG), DL-penicillamine (PNCA) and captopril on early and advanced glycation of human serum albumin (HSA). We also assessed inhibition of lipid peroxidation by AG and RAG in erythrocytes. Incubation of HSA with D-glucose (20 mM, 37 degrees C for 21 days) led to the formation of Amadori products and fluorescent advanced glycation end-products (AGE). Only PNCA markedly reduced the formation of Amadori products, while all tested compounds markedly reduced the formation of AGE. AG and RAG also inhibited malondialdehyde formation in erythrocytes incubated with hydrogen peroxide. Addition of AG at concentrations from 1 microM to 1 mM caused a 10-80% inhibition of lipid peroxidation. Thus, AG and RAG inhibit toxic oxidative processes and may have therapeutic potential in a number of human diseases.