Stable free radical nitroxides are potent antioxidants possessing superoxide dismutase- and catalase-mimetic activity that protect cells and animals against a variety of oxidative insults. Tempol, as a representative nitroxide, was evaluated for its influence on weight maintenance and spontaneous tumor incidence in C3H mice. Tempol administered in either the drinking water or food did not show any untoward effects and prevented animals from becoming obese. Tempol-treated animals' leptin levels were reduced. Long-term treatment with Tempol significantly decreased tumorigenesis when compared to controls (10 vs. 40%, respectively). Selected tissues from Tempol-treated animals exhibited elevated levels of mitochrondrial uncoupling protein-2 (UCP-2) and HSP70. The present data suggest that nitroxides upregulate UCP-2, obviate weight gain, and decrease age-related spontaneous tumor incidence. As a class, nitroxides may provide overall health benefits by contributing to decreased obesity and tumor incidence.