The antiperoxidative properties of alpha-mangostin, a xanthone isolated from mangosteen fruit, were tested for the first time in nerve tissue exposed to different toxic insults. Two reliable biological preparations (rat brain homogenates and synaptosomal P2 fractions) were exposed to the toxic actions of a free radical generator (ferrous sulfate), an excitotoxic agent (quinolinate), and a mitochondrial toxin (3-nitropropionate). alpha-Mangostin decreased the lipoperoxidative action of FeSO(4) in both preparations in a concentration-dependent manner, and completely abolished the peroxidative effects of quinolinate, 3-nitropropionate and FeSO(4) + quinolinate at all concentrations tested. Interestingly, when tested alone in brain homogenates, alpha-mangostin significantly decreased the lipoperoxidation even below basal levels. alpha-Mangostin also prevented the decreased reductant capacity of mitochondria in synaptosomal fractions. Our results suggest that alpha-mangostin exerts a robust antiperoxidative effect in brain tissue preparations probably through its properties as a free radical scavenger. In light of these findings, this antioxidant should be tested in other neurotoxic models involving oxidative stress.