Here we report on the marked protective effect of resveratrol on 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) induced oxidative stress and apoptotic death in Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. 4-HNE, one of the major aldehydic products of the peroxidation of membrane w-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, has been suggested to contribute to oxidant stress mediated cell injury. Indeed, in vitro treatment of 3T3 fibroblasts with 4-HNE induced a condition of oxidative stress as monitored by the oxidation of dichlorofluorescein diacetate; this reaction was prevented when cells were pretreated with resveratrol. Further, 4-HNE-treated fibroblasts eventually underwent apoptotic death as determined by differential staining and internucleosomal DNA fragmentation. Resveratrol pretreatment also prevented 4-HNE induced DNA fragmentation and apoptosis. These observations are consistent with a potential role of lipid peroxidation-derived products in programmed cell death and demonstrate that resveratrol can counteract this effect by quenching cell oxidative stress.