Seven men and seven women participated in a randomized crossover trial to study the effect of intake of parsley (Petroselinum crispum), containing high levels of the flavone apigenin, on the urinary excretion of flavones and on biomarkers for oxidative stress. The subjects received a strictly controlled diet low in flavones and other naturally occurring antioxidants during the 2 weeks of intervention. This basic diet was supplemented with parsley providing 3.73-4.49 mg apigenin/MJ in one of the intervention weeks. Urinary excretion of apigenin was 1.59-409.09 micrograms/MJ per 24 h during intervention with parsley and 0-112.27 micrograms/MJ per 24 h on the basic diet (P < 0.05). The fraction of apigenin intake excreted in the urine was 0.58 (SE 0.16)% during parsley intervention. Erythrocyte glutathione reductase (EC 188.8.131.52; GR) and superoxide dismutase (EC 184.108.40.206; SOD) activities increased during intervention with parsley (P < 0.005) as compared with the levels on the basic diet, whereas erythrocyte catalase (EC 220.127.116.11) and glutathione peroxidase (EC 18.104.22.168) activities did not change. No significant changes were observed in plasma protein 2-adipic semialdehyde residues, a biomarker of plasma protein oxidation. In this short-term investigation, an overall decreasing trend in the activity of antioxidant enzymes was observed during the 2-week study. The decreased activity of SOD was strongly correlated at the individual level with an increased oxidative damage to plasma proteins. However, the intervention with parsley seemed, partly, to overcome this decrease and resulted in increased levels of GR and SOD.