Phycocyanin (Pc) is a phycobiliprotein that has been recently reported to exhibit a variety of pharmacological properties. In this regard, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and hepatoprotective effects have been experimentally attributed to Pc. When it was evaluated as an antioxidant in vitro, it was able to scavenge alkoxyl, hydroxyl and peroxyl radicals and to react with peroxinitrite (ONOO(-);) and hypochlorous acid (HOCl). Pc also inhibits microsomal lipid peroxidation induced by Fe(+2)-ascorbic acid or the free radical initiator 2,2' azobis (2-amidinopropane) hydrochloride (AAPH). Furthermore, it reduces carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4))-induced lipid peroxidation in vivo. Pc has been evaluated in twelve experimental models of inflammation and exerted anti-inflammatory effects in a dose-dependent fashion in all of these. Thus, Pc reduced edema, histamine (Hi) release, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and the levels of prostaglandin (PGE(2)) and leukotriene (LTB(4)) in the inflamed tissues. These anti-inflammatory effects of Pc can be due to its scavenging properties toward oxygen reactive species (ROS) and its inhibitory effects on cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) activity and on Hi release from mast cells. Pc also reduced the levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) in the blood serum of mice treated with endotoxin and it showed neuroprotective effects in rat cerebellar granule cell cultures and in kainate-induced brain injury in rats.