A number of compounds were isolated from the medicinal plant Aster tataricus including shionone, epifriedelinol, quercetin, kaempferol, scopoletin, emodin, aurantiamide acetate and 1,7-dihydroxy-6-methyl-anthraquinone. The compounds were compared with regard to their ability in inhibiting hemolysis of rat erythrocytes induced by 2'-2' azobis (2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride, lipid peroxidation using the FeSO(4)-ascorbic acid system, and generation of superoxide radicals using a phenazine methosulfate-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide system. The effects on the Fe-bleomycin-induced DNA damage reflected pro-oxidant activity. Quercetin and kaempferol were most potent in inhibiting hemolysis, lipid peroxidation and superoxide radical generation. Scopoletin and emodin were similar to quercetin and kaempferol in inhibiting superoxide radical generation and second to them in inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Aurantiamide acetate exhibited some inhibitory activity toward superoxide radical generation. 1,7-dihydroxy-6-methyl-anthraquinone exerted an inhibitory activity only on superoxide radical generation. Shionone and epifriedelinol did not display any antioxidant activity. Quercetin and kaempferol, but not the remaining compounds, exhibited some pro-oxidant activity.