The radical modulating activity of 2-methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)phenol (eugenol), 2-t-butyl-4-methoxy-phenol (BHA), and their dimers (bis-eugenol, bis-BHA) was investigated, using ESR spectroscopy. Eugenol produced radicals in alkaline solutions, and enhanced the radical intensity of both sodium-L-ascorbate and sodium 5,6-benzylidene-L-ascorbate. BHA has similar, but slightly lower activity, and their dimers were inactive. Their ability to scavenge the superoxide anion (O2-), generated by hypoxanthine and xanthine oxidase reaction, was in the order of eugenol > bis-eugenol > BHA > bis-BHA. The relative radical intensity among these compounds was paralleled by their cytotoxic activity. The present study demonstrates that eugenol and BHA were very reactive with radicals and their reactivity was considerably reduced by dimerization. The applicability of the dimerized eugenol in dentistry was discussed.