The effect of antioxidants on the radical intensity of 2-methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)phenol (eugenol) was investigated, using ESR spectroscopy. Eugenol produced radicals in alkaline solutions, with an optimum pH of 9.5. The intensity of eugenol radical was a positive function of its concentration, reaching a plateau level at 100 mM. The eugenol radical was rapidly diminished under alkaline conditions. Water-soluble antioxidants, such as cysteine, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, glutathione and sodium ascorbate, completely scavenged the eugenol radical. Gallic acid at lower doses significantly, but not completely, scavenged the eugenol radical. Among water-insoluble antioxidants, terpenes (beta-carotene, retinol, lycopene) effectively scavenged the eugenol radical, whereas phenolic compounds (alpha-tocopherol, Trolox) were inactive. Millimolar concentrations of eugenol were cytotoxic against human salivary gland and oral squamous carcinoma cell lines. Addition of sodium ascorbate or beta-carotene reproducibly reduced the cytotoxic activity of eugenol. The applicability of the antioxidants in dentistry was discussed.