Twelve major anthocyanins identified in bilberry extracts were studied in vitro using capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE) for their reactions towards 2,2'-azobis(2-amidinopropane) (AAPH) radicals, hydrogen peroxides (H(2)O(2)) and tert-buthylhydroperoxides (t-BuOOH). Reactivity towards AAPH radicals was primarily determined by the aglycon structure, not by the type of sugar moiety. Delphinidins carrying three-hydroxyl groups on the B ring were most reactive followed by cyanidins, with two-hydroxyl groups. Further, methylation of the hydroxyl groups reduced reactivity towards AAPH radicals. However, reactivity of anthocyanins towards H(2)O(2) was not significantly affected by aglycon structure or by the type of sugar moiety; there being no marked difference in reaction rates among the anthocyanins. Reactivity towards t-BuOOH was essentially the same as towards H(2)O(2), although the reaction rate was several times smaller. Also, the reaction rate of anthocyanin towards peroxide was relatively high compared to that of (+)-catechin (approximately 30 times larger) measured as a reference antioxidant, whereas the reactivities of anthocyanins and (+)-catechin towards AAPH radicals were similar.