Antioxidants from several nutrients, e.g. vitamin E, beta-carotene, or flavonoids, inhibit the oxidative modification of low-density lipoproteins. This protective effect could possibly retard atherogenesis and in consequence avoid coronary heart diseases. Some studies have shown a positive effect of those antioxidants on cardiovascular disease. Another class of naturally occurring antioxidants are terpenoids, which are found in essential oils. The essential oil of Pinus mugo and the contained monoterpene terpinolene effectively prevent low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation. In order to test the mechanism by which terpinolene protects LDL from oxidation, LDL from human blood plasma enriched in terpinolene was isolated. In this preparation not only the lipid part of LDL is protected against copper-induced oxidation--as proven by following the formation of conjugated dienes, but also the oxidation of the protein part is inhibited, since loss of tryptophan fluorescence is strongly delayed. This inhibition is due to a retarded oxidation of intrinsic carotenoids of LDL, and not, as in the case of some flavonoids, attributable to a protection of intrinsic alpha-tocopherol. These results are in agreement with our previous results, which showed the same effects for a monoterpene from lemon oil, i.e. gamma-terpinene.