The antioxidant activity of chloroform and methanol extract of roots and stems of Rhubarb (Rheum ribes L.), which are used for medicinal purposes and also its fresh stems and petioles are consumed as vegetable, was studied. The antioxidant potential of both extracts of roots and stems were evaluated using different antioxidant tests, namely total antioxidant (lipid peroxidation inhibition activity), DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radical scavenging, superoxide anion radical scavenging, ferric reducing power, and cupric reducing power (CUPRAC), and metal chelating activities. Total antioxidant activity was also measured according to the beta-carotene bleaching method, and all four extracts exhibited stronger activity than known standards, namely butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and alpha-tocopherol. Particularly, higher activity was exhibited by roots with 93.1% and 84.1% inhibitions of chloroform and methanol extracts, while 82.2% and 82.0% inhibitions by stem extracts, respectively. However, both methanol extracts exhibited higher DPPH radical scavenging activity than the corresponding chloroform extracts, moreover, methanol extract of the stems showed better activity than BHT. In addition, both root extracts showed more potent superoxide anion radical scavenging activity than BHT, and comparable with well known radical scavenger L-ascorbic acid. Except chloroform extract of the roots, the other three extracts exhibited better metal chelating activity than quercetin. Also, total phenolic and flavonoid contents in both extracts of the roots and stems of R. ribes were determined as pyrocatechol and quercetin equivalents, respectively. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.