Phenolic compounds have been shown to exhibit bioactive properties, and in particular antioxidant effects. A phenolic-rich fraction has been isolated from the aqueous by-product obtained during the milling of oil palm fruits. The objectives of the study were to determine the phenolic content of the crude and ethanolic extracts of oil palm fruits and to evaluate the antioxidant properties of these extracts. The total phenolics content of the crude and ethanol extracts as determined by the Folin-Ciocalteu method were found to be 40.3 +/- 0.5 and 49.6 +/- 0.6 mg GAE/g extract (dry basis), respectively. The radical scavenging activity of the extracts determined using 2,2 diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH.) indicated that both crude and ethanol extracts exhibit hydrogen-donating capacity, and have antiradical power (ARP) comparable to ascorbic acid. The DPPH radical scavenging activity of the extracts were less than that of gallic acid, but the time-course variations of the scavenging curves suggest that the extracts acted by a mechanism similar to that of gallic acid. The electron-donating potentials of the extracts were inferred from the hydrogen peroxide scavenging and reducing power assays. The reducing power of crude and ethanol extracts at 1 mM GAE were found to be comparable to that of 0.3 mM gallic acid. The extracts indicated complete scavenging of hydrogen peroxide at concentrations above 0.4 mM GAE. These findings suggest that the crude and ethanol extracts are able to scavenge free radicals, by either hydrogen or electron donating mechanisms, and can therefore act as primary antioxidants.