Lipid peroxidation in brain mitochondria was induced by NADH in the presence of ADP and FeCl3. A novel quinone compound, idebenone, inhibited this peroxidation and the inhibition was markedly enhanced by succinate, a substrate of mitochondrial respiration. The concentration of succinate required to exert the maximal effect was 1.5 mM. The concentration of idebenone giving 50% inhibition (IC50) was 0.5 and 84 microM in the presence and absence of succinate, respectively, indicating that succinate enhances the inhibition by 170-fold. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of idebenone in the presence of succinate was abolished by adding thenoyltrifluoroacetate (TTFA), an inhibitor of complex II in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. These results indicate that idebenone is changed through complex II to its reduced form, which protects mitochondria against lipid peroxidation.