Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a golden pigment from turmeric, has been linked with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial, and antidiabetic properties. Most of the these activities have been assigned to methoxy, hydroxyl, α,β-unsaturated carbonyl moiety or to diketone groups present in curcumin. One of the major metabolites of curcumin is tetrahydrocurcumin (THC), which lacks α,β-unsaturated carbonyl moiety and is white in color. Whether THC is superior to curcumin on a molecular level is unclear and thus is the focus of this review. Various studies suggest that curcumin is a more potent antioxidant than THC; curcumin (but not THC) can bind and inhibit numerous targets including DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase-1, heme oxygenase-1, Nrf2, β-catenin, cyclooxygenase-2, NF-kappaB, inducible nitric oxide synthase, nitric oxide, amyloid plaques, reactive oxygen species, vascular endothelial growth factor, cyclin D1, glutathione, P300/CBP, 5-lipoxygenase, cytosolic phospholipase A2, prostaglandin E2, inhibitor of NF-kappaB kinase-1, -2, P38MAPK, p-Tau, tumor necrosis factor-α, forkhead box O3a, CRAC; curcumin can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress cellular entry of viruses such as influenza A virus and hepatitis C virus much more effectively than THC; curcumin affects membrane mobility; and curcumin is also more effective than THC in suppressing phorbol-ester-induced tumor promotion. Other studies, however, suggest that THC is superior to curcumin for induction of GSH peroxidase, glutathione-S-transferase, NADPH: quinone reductase, and quenching of free radicals. Most studies have indicated that THC exhibits higher antioxidant activity, but curcumin exhibits both pro-oxidant and antioxidant properties.