Curcumine from Curcuma longa and the gum resin of Boswellia serrata, which were demonstrated to act as anti-inflammatories in in vivo animal models, were studied in a set of in vitro experiments in order to elucidate the mechanism of their beneficial effects. Curcumine inhibited the 5-lipoxygenase activity in rat peritoneal neutrophils as well as the 12-lipoxygenase and the cyclooxygenase activities in human platelets. In a cell free peroxidation system curcumine exerted strong antioxidative activity. Thus, its effects on the dioxygenases are probably due to its reducing capacity. Boswellic acids were isolated from the gum resin of Boswellia serrata and identified as the active principles. Boswellic acids inhibited the leukotriene synthesis via 5-lipoxygenase, but did not affect the 12-lipoxygenase and the cyclooxygenase activities. Additionally, boswellic acids did not impair the peroxidation of arachidonic acid by iron and ascorbate. The data suggest that boswellic acids are specific, non-redox inhibitors of leukotriene synthesis either interacting directly with 5-lipoxygenase or blocking its translocation.