Garcinol, a polyisoprenylated benzophenone derivative, was purified from Garcinia indica fruit rind, and its free radical scavenging activity was studied using electron spin resonance (ESR) spectrometry. In the hypoxanthine/xanthine oxidase system, emulsified garcinol suppressed superoxide anion to almost the same extent as DL-alpha-tocopherol by weight. In the Fenton reaction system, garcinol also suppressed hydroxyl radical more strongly than DL-alpha-tocopherol. In the H(2)O(2)/NaOH/DMSO system, garcinol suppressed superoxide anion, hydroxyl radical, and methyl radical. It was thus confirmed that this derivative is a potent free radical scavenger and able to scavenge both hydrophilic and hydrophobic ones including reactive oxygen species. Orally administered garcinol prevented acute ulceration in rats induced by indomethacin and water immersion stress caused by radical formation. These results suggested garcinol might have potential as a free radical scavenger and clinical application as an antiulcer drug.