In the present study we demonstrate neuroprotective property of green tea extract and (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate in N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mice model of Parkinson's disease. N-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine neurotoxin caused dopamine neuron loss in substantia nigra concomitant with a depletion in striatal dopamine and tyrosine hydroxylase protein levels. Pretreatment of mice with either green tea extract (0.5 and 1 mg/kg) or (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (2 and 10 mg/kg) prevented these effects. In addition, the neurotoxin caused an elevation in striatal antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (240%) and catalase (165%) activities, both effects being prevented by (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate. (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate itself also increased the activities of both enzymes in the brain. The neuroprotective effects are not likely to be caused by inhibition of N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine conversion to its active metabolite 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium by monoamine oxidase-B, as both green tea and (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate are very poor inhibitors of this enzyme in vitro (770 microg/mL and 660 microM, respectively). Brain penetrating property of polyphenols, as well as their antioxidant and iron-chelating properties may make such compounds an important class of drugs to be developed for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases where oxidative stress has been implicated.