It has been suggested that free radicals may adversely influence the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. We conducted this study to determine whether bromocriptine, an agent widely used for treating parkinsonism, possesses antioxidant effects. Bromocriptine scavenged superoxide produced from a superoxide generating system (hypoxanthine-xanthine oxidase) by the spin-trapping method using electron spin resonance. Bromocriptine had a strong scavenging effect on the 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-N-oxide hydroxide signal produced from Fenton's reaction. Bromocriptine also attenuated the stable free radical diphenyl-p-picrylhydrazyl signal. This drug inhibited the autooxidation of rat brain homogenates in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. Autooxidation of brain homogenates collected from rats treated with bromocriptine (2.5 mg/kg, i.p., daily for 3 days) was significantly reduced as compared with values in untreated rat homogenates. These observations suggest that bromocriptine is a free radical scavenger and a potent antioxidant.