Quercetin (3,3',4',5,7-pentahydroxyflavone) is one of the most abundant flavonol-type flavonoids rich in diet and suggested to possess a beneficial role in blood circulation. This study was conducted to know the effect of quercetin aglycone and one of its possible metabolite, quercetin-3-O-beta-D-glucuronide on cigarette tar extract-induced impairment of erythrocyte deformability. Erythrocyte suspension containing quercetin aglycone, quercetin-3-O-beta-D-glucuronide or quercetin-3-O-beta-D-glucoside was forced to flow through microchannels with equivalent diameter of 7 &mgr;m and its transit time was measured as an index of erythrocyte deformability using microchannel array method. Both quercetin aglycone and quercetin-3-O-beta-D-glucuronide, but not quercetin-3-O-beta-D-glucoside, substantially increased erythrocyte deformability indicating that the former two compounds affect the physicochemical state of erythrocyte by interacting with its membranes. Aqueous cigarette tar extract caused marked decrease in erythrocyte deformability with concomitant increase of membranous lipid peroxidation. In that case, quercetin aglycone suppressed the impairment of erythrocyte deformability as well as membranous lipid peroxidation. The same effect was found in quercetin-3-O-beta-D-glucuronide, eventhough its effect was lower than that of quercetin aglycone. Thus, not only quercetin aglycone but also its conjugate metabolite protects erythrocyte membrane from the damage of smoking by scavenging reactive oxygen species generated from cigarette tar. Intake of quercetin-rich food may be helpful to protect membranous damage in erythrocytes from smoking.