Antioxidant activity of active principles of Withania somnifera, consisting of equimolar concentrations of sitoindosides VII-X and withaferin A, was investigated for their effects on rat brain frontal cortical and striatal concentrations of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX). Results were compared with effects induced by deprenyl, an agent with well documented antioxidant activity. Active glycowithanolides of W. somnifera (WSG) (10 and 20 mg/kg, i.p.), administered once daily for 21 days, induced a dose-related increase in SOD, CAT and GPX activity in frontal cortex and striatum, which was statistically significant on days 14 and 21, except with the lower dose of WSG on GPX activity, where the effect was evident only on day 21. The data were comparable to those induced by deprenyl (2 mg/kg/day, i.p.) with respect to SOD, CAT and GPX activities, which were evident by day 14. These findings are consistent with the therapeutic use of W. somnifera as an Ayurvedic rasayana and medhyarasayana. Antioxidant effect of active principles of W. somnifera may explain, at least in part, the reported antistress, immunomodulatory, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects produced by them in experimental animals, and in clinical situations.