The influence of high oxygen concentrations on total phenolic, total anthocyanin, individual phenolic compounds, and antioxidant capacity (measured as oxygen radical absorbance capacity, ORAC) in highbush blueberry fruit (Vaccinium corymbosum L. cv. Duke) was investigated. Freshly harvested blueberries were placed in jars ventilated continuously with air or with 40, 60, 80, or 100% O(2) at 5 degrees C for up to 35 days. Samples were taken initially and at 7-day intervals during storage. Whereas the quality parameters of titratable acidity, total soluble solids, and surface color were only slightly affected by the superatmospheric O(2) treatments, the antioxidant levels were markedly increased by 60-100% O(2) treatments as compared with 40% O(2) treatment or air control during 35 days of storage. Elevated O(2) between 60 and 100% also promoted increases of total phenolics and total anthocyanins as well as the individual phenolic compounds analyzed by HPLC. Fruit treated with O(2) concentrations of >/=60% also exhibited significantly less decay. Data obtained in this study suggest that high-oxygen treatments may improve the antioxidant capacity of blueberry fruit. Furthermore, antioxidant capacity may be correlated with total phenolic and anthocyanin contents in blueberries.