Several methods have been developed to measure the total antioxidant capacity of a biological sample. The use of peroxyl or hydroxyl radicals as pro-oxidants in the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay makes it different and unique from the assays that involve oxidants that are not necessarily pro-oxidants. An improvement in quantitation is achieved in the ORAC assay by taking the reaction between substrate and free radicals to completion and using an area-under-curve technique for quantitation compared to the assays that measure a lag phase. The interpretation of the changes in plasma or serum antioxidant capacity becomes complicated by the different methods used in detecting these changes. The interpretation also depends upon the conditions under which the antioxidant capacity is determined because the measurement reflects outcomes in a dynamic system. An increased antioxidant capacity in plasma or serum may not necessarily be a desirable condition if it reflects a response to increased oxidative stress. Similarly, a decrease in plasma or serum antioxidant capacity may not necessarily be an undesirable condition if the measurement reflects decreased production of reactive species. Because of these complications, no single measurement of antioxidant status is going to be sufficient, but a "battery" of measurements, many of which will be described in Forum articles, will be necessary to adequately assess oxidative stress in biological systems.