The effect of some polyphenols (resveratrol, catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, and quercetin) and beverages (red wine and green tea) on the enzymatic activity of pepsin during the digestion of three different substrates (pork meat, insoluble azocasein, and denatured hemoglobin) has been investigated. The tested polyphenols and beverages increase the initial velocity of the reaction, and the activating effect is concentration dependent. The order of effectiveness of polyphenols in increasing the initial velocity of the reaction is resveratrol > or = quercetin > epigallocatechin-3-gallate > catechin. The kinetic data obtained with soluble denatured hemoglobin show that the K(m) for the substrate is not changed, whereas the V(max) of the reaction is increased. Pepsin activity follows a simple Michaelis-Menten kinetic suggesting that k(3) is increased by polyphenols. To the authors' knowledge, the present study is the first demonstration that some polyphenols and related beverages are able to enhance the enzymatic activity of pepsin.