The oxidative dimerization of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the major catechin of tea leaves (Camellia sinensis L.), in authentic intestinal juice (pH 8.5) and mouse plasma (pH 7.8) was investigated. EGCG was unstable in the alkaline solutions over pH 7.4. The content of EGCG was decreased to 19.4% and 60.7% at 5 minutes in the intestinal juice and plasma, respectively. Three products-P-1 (theasinensin A), P-2 (a new dimerized product reported in a previous paper), and P-3 (theasinensin D, a rotational isomer of P-1)-were detected in these fluids. The sum of the molar contents of the three products formed after 5 minutes of incubation at 37 degrees C corresponded to 35.1% and 21.9% of the degraded molar content of EGCG, respectively. These dimerization products of EGCG would be formed by the dehydrogenation and decarboxylation of EGCG under oxidative conditions in alkaline solutions. The formation of P-2 was greater than that of P-1 and of P-3 at 30 minutes of incubation in the intestinal juice and mouse plasma. Fe(2+)-chelating activities of the three products were much higher than that of EGCG, and superoxide anion radical-scavenging activity of P-2 was also significantly higher than that of EGCG. The absorbance of P-2 administered to male ddY mice was studied. The content of P-2 in mouse plasma was less than that of administration of EGCG, but P-2 was absorbed quickly within 30 minutes and metabolized slowly. These dimerization products of EGCG are expected to contribute to in vivo antioxidative activities enhanced by tea drinking.