The "French paradox" (apparent compatibility of a high fat diet with a low incidence of coronary atherosclerosis) has been attributed to the regular drinking of red wine. However, the alcohol content of wine may not be the sole explanation for this protection. Red wine also contains phenolic compounds, and the antioxidant properties of these may have an important role. In in-vitro studies with phenolic substances in red wine and normal human low-density lipoprotein (LDL) we found that red wine inhibits the copper-catalysed oxidation of LDL. Wine diluted 1000-fold containing 10 mumol/L total phenolics inhibited LDL oxidation significantly more than alpha-tocopherol. Our findings show that the non-alcoholic components of red wine have potent antioxidant properties toward oxidation of human LDL.