The structure-activity relationship of flavonoids as inhibitors of xanthine oxidase and as scavengers of the superoxide radical, produced by the action of the enzyme xanthine oxidase, was investigated. The hydroxyl groups at C-5 and C-7 and the double bond between C-2 and C-3 were essential for a high inhibitory activity on xanthine oxidase. Flavones showed slightly higher inhibitory activity than flavonols. All flavonoid derivatives except isorhamnetin (30) were less active than the original compounds. For a high superoxide scavenging activity on the other hand, a hydroxyl group at C-3' in ring B and at C-3 were essential. According to their effect on xanthine oxidase and as superoxide scavengers, the flavonoids could be classified into six groups: superoxide scavengers without inhibitory activity on xanthine oxidase (category A), xanthine oxidase inhibitors without any additional superoxide scavenging activity (category B), xanthine oxidase inhibitors with an additional superoxide scavenging activity (category C), xanthine oxidase inhibitors with an additional pro-oxidant effect on the production of superoxide (category D), flavonoids with a marginal effect on xanthine oxidase but with a prooxidant effect on the production of superoxide (category E), and finally, flavonoids with no effect on xanthine oxidase or superoxide (category F).