Structurally diverse plant phenolics were examined for their abilities to inhibit lipid peroxidation induced either by Fe(II) and Fe(III) metal ions or by azo-derived peroxyl radicals in a liposomal membrane system. The antioxidant abilities of flavonoids were compared with those of coumarin and tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). The antioxidant efficacies of these compounds were evaluated on the basis of their abilities to inhibit the fluorescence intensity decay of an extrinsic probe, 3-(p-(6-phenyl)-I,3,5-hexatrienyl)phenylpropionic acid (DPH-PA), caused by the free radicals generated during lipid peroxidation. All the flavonoids tested exhibited higher antioxidant efficacies against metal-ion-induced peroxidations than peroxyl-radical-induced peroxidation, suggesting that metal chelation may play a larger role in determining the antioxidant activities of these compounds than has previously been believed. Distinct structure-activity relationships were also revealed for the antioxidant abilities of the flavonoids. Presence of hydroxyl substituents on the flavonoid nucleus enhanced activity, whereas substitution by methoxy groups diminished antioxidant activity. Substitution patterns on the B-ring especially affected antioxidant potencies of the flavonoids. In cases where the B-ring could not contribute to the antioxidant activities of flavonoids, hydroxyl substituents in an catechol structure on the A-ring were able to compensate and become a larger determinant of flavonoid antioxidant activity.