A human study was carried out to investigate whether tomato juice, rich in natural lycopene and fortified with vitamin C, is able to reduce several biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation and whether the effect can be attributed to lycopene, vitamin C or any other micronutrient. Following a 2-week depletion phase, volunteers were assigned randomly to ingest either tomato juice with (LC) or without (L) vitamin C fortification for 2 weeks (daily dose 20.6 mg lycopene and 45.5/435 mg vitamin C). Plasma and urine were analysed for carotenoids and vitamin C, lipid status, antioxidant capacity, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and 8-epi-PGF2alpha, protein carbonyls, cytokines IL-1beta and TNFalpha and C-reactive protein (CRP). The consumption of tomato juice led to a reduction in total cholesterol levels (L: 157.6 v. 153.2 mg/dl, P = 0.008; LC: 153.4 v. 147.4 mg/dl, P = 0.002) and that of CRP (L: 315.6 v. 262.3 microg/l, P = 0.017; LC: 319.2 v. 247.1 microg/l, P = 0.001) in both groups. The vitamin C-fortified juice slightly raised the antioxidant capacity in urine and decreased TBARS in plasma and urine. All other markers were affected to a lesser extent or remained unchanged. Cholesterol reduction was correlated with lycopene uptake (P = 0.003), whereas the other effects could not be related with particular micronutrients. Any beneficial effects of tomato consumption for human health cannot be attributed only to lycopene and, as the additional supplementation with ascorbic acid indicates, a variety of antioxidants might be needed to optimize protection against chronic diseases.