Vanilla extract was prepared by extraction of cured vanilla beans with aqueous ethyl alcohol (60%). The extract was profiled by HPLC, wherein major compounds, viz., vanillic acid, 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl alcohol, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde and vanillin, could be identified and separated. Extract and pure standard compounds were screened for antioxidant activity using beta-carotene-linoleate and DPPH in vitro model systems. At a concentration of 200 ppm, the extract showed 26% and 43% of antioxidant activity by beta-carotene-linoleate and DPPH methods, respectively, in comparison to corresponding values of 93% and 92% for BHA. Interestingly, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl alcohol and 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol exhibited antioxidant activity of 65% and 45% by beta-carotene-linoleate method and 90% and 50% by DPPH methods, respectively. In contrast, pure vanillin exhibited much lower antioxidant activity. The present study points toward the potential use of vanilla extract components as antioxidants for food preservation and in health supplements as nutraceuticals.