The intake of fruits rich in vitamin C seems to increase the antioxidant defence of the organism. However, it is still not clear whether vitamin C alone is responsible for this effect. The aim of the present investigation was to study the effect of the intake of a single portion of blood orange juice (BOJ, 300 ml, providing 150 mg vitamin C) on mononuclear blood cell (MNBC) DNA damage, compared with a drink supplemented with the same amount of vitamin C (C-drink) or sugars (S-drink). Seven young healthy subjects were randomised in a repeated-measures design in which they received each drink on different occasions, 2 weeks apart. Blood samples were collected at baseline, every hour for 8 h, and at 24 h after the intake of each drink. Vitamin C was analysed at each time point by HPLC, whereas H2O2-induced MNBC DNA damage was evaluated at 0, 3 and 24 h by means of the comet assay. Plasma vitamin C concentration increased similarly following BOJ or C-drink intake and was not affected by the S-drink. DNA damage significantly decreased 3 h after BOJ intake (about 18 %; P < 0.01) and remained constant at 24 h (about 16 %; P < 0.01). No effect of the C-drink and S-drink was observed. In conclusion, the intake of a single portion of BOJ provided an early protection of MNBC against oxidative DNA damage; however, the protective effect of BOJ was not explained by vitamin C alone, thus other phytochemicals could be involved.