The antioxidant and hepatoprotective actions of Terminalia catappa L. collected from Okinawa Island were evaluated in vitro and in vivo using leaves extract and isolated antioxidants. A water extract of the leaves of T. catappa showed a strong radical scavenging action for 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl and superoxide (O(2)(.-)) anion. Chebulagic acid and corilagin were isolated as the active components from T. catappa. Both antioxidants showed a strong scavenging action for O(2)(.-) and peroxyl radicals and also inhibited reactive oxygen species production from leukocytes stimulated by phorbol-12-myristate acetate. Galactosamine (GalN, 600 mg/kg, s.c.,) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 0.5 microg/kg, i.p.)-induced hepatotoxicity of rats as seen by an elevation of serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and glutathione S-transferase (GST) activities was significantly reduced when the herb extract or corilagin was given intraperitoneally to rats prior to GalN/LPS treatment. Increase of free radical formation and lipid peroxidation in mitochondria caused by GalN/LPS treatment were also decreased by pretreatment with the herb/corilagin. In addition, apoptotic events such as DNA fragmentation and the increase in caspase-3 activity in the liver observed with GalN/LPS treatment were prevented by the pretreatment with the herb/corilagin. These results show that the extract of T. catappa and its antioxidant, corilagin are protective against GalN/LPS-induced liver injury through suppression of oxidative stress and apoptosis.