Plants in the Mediterranean basin, such as vine and olive trees, have developed an array of antioxidant defences to protect themselves from environmental stress. Accordingly, the incidence of coronary heart disease and certain cancers is lower in the Mediterranean area, where olive oil is the dietary fat of choice. As opposed to other vegetable oils, extra virgin olive oil, which is obtained by physical pressure from a whole fruit, is rich in phenolic components that are responsible for the particular stability of the oil. We have investigated the scavenging actions of some olive oil phenolics, namely hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, with respect to superoxide anion generation, neutrophils respiratory burst, and hypochlorous acid. The low EC50S indicate that both compounds are potent scavengers of superoxide radicals and inhibitors of neutrophils respiratory burst: whenever demonstrated in vivo, these properties may partially explain the observed lower incidence of CHD and cancer associated with the Mediterranean diet.