Hydroxyl radicals, generated by reaction of an iron-EDTA complex with H2O2 in the presence of ascorbic acid, attack deoxyribose to form products that, upon heating with thiobarbituric acid at low pH, yield a pink chromogen. Added hydroxyl radical "scavengers" compete with deoxyribose for the hydroxyl radicals produced and diminish chromogen formation. A rate constant for reaction of the scavenger with hydroxyl radical can be deduced from the inhibition of color formation. For a wide range of compounds, rate constants obtained in this way are similar to those determined by pulse radiolysis. It is suggested that the deoxyribose assay is a simple and cheap alternative to pulse radiolysis for determination of rate constants for reaction of most biological molecules with hydroxyl radicals. Rate constants for reactions of ATP, ADP, and Good's buffers with hydroxyl radicals have been determined by this method.