Epidemiological studies suggest that foods rich in flavonoids might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of green tea extract (GTE) used as a food antioxidant on markers of oxidative status after dietary depletion of flavonoids and catechins. The study was designed as a 2 x 3 weeks blinded human cross-over intervention study (eight smokers, eight non-smokers) with GTE corresponding to a daily intake of 18.6 mg catechins/d. The GTE was incorporated into meat patties and consumed with a strictly controlled diet otherwise low in flavonoids. GTE intervention increased plasma antioxidant capacity from 1.35 to 1.56 (P<0.02) in postprandially collected plasma, most prominently in smokers. The intervention did not significantly affect markers in fasting blood samples, including plasma or haemoglobin protein oxidation, plasma oxidation lagtime, or activities of the erythrocyte superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and catalase. Neither were fasting plasma triacylglycerol, cholesterol, alpha-tocopherol, retinol, beta-carotene, or ascorbic acid affected by intervention. Urinary 8-oxo-deoxyguanosine excretion was also unaffected. Catechins from the extract were excreted into urine with a half-life of less than 2 h in accordance with the short-term effects on plasma antioxidant capacity. Since no long-term effects of GTE were observed, the study essentially served as a fruit and vegetables depletion study. The overall effect of the 10-week period without dietary fruits and vegetables was a decrease in oxidative damage to DNA, blood proteins, and plasma lipids, concomitantly with marked changes in antioxidative defence.