The azole antifungal drug ketoconazole was found to inhibit Fe(III)-ascorbate dependent lipid peroxidation using either rat liver microsomes or ox-brain phospholipid liposomes as the substrate. It also inhibited microsomal peroxidation induced by the Fe(III)-ADP/NADPH system. The related azoles, miconazole and clotrimazole, were much weaker inhibitors than ketoconazole. Ketoconazole was approximately equipotent with the triphenylethylene anticancer drug tamoxifen in the microsomal system and was almost as effective as 4-hydroxytamoxifen in the liposomal system. Ketoconazole introduced into phospholipid liposomes during their preparation inhibited Fe(III)-ascorbate induced lipid peroxidation to a greater extent than similarly introduced cholesterol, ergosterol or tamoxifen. Miconazole and clotrimazole were again poor inhibitors of lipid peroxidation in this system. These antioxidant effects of ketoconazole may be due to membrane stabilization in the systems used. The implications of our findings for the clinical applications of these drugs are discussed.