Most nonenzymatic antioxidant activity (scavenging of free radicals, inhibition of lipid peroxidation, etc.) is mediated by redox reactions. The antioxidant (AO) activity of polyphenols (PPs), as ferric-reducing power, was determined for the first time using a modified FRAP (ferric reducing/antioxidant power) assay. Reaction was followed for 30 min, and both Fe(II) standards and samples were dissolved in the same solvent to allow comparison. Selected representative PPs included flavonoids (quercetin, rutin, and catechin), resveratrol, tannic acid, and phenolic acids (gallic, caffeic, and ferulic). Carotenoids (beta-carotene and zeaxanthine), ascorbic acid, Trolox, and BHA were included for comparison. Equivalent concentration 1 (EC(1)), as the concentration of AO with a reducing effect equivalent to 1 mmol/L Fe(II), was used to compare AO efficiency. PPs had lower EC(1) values, and therefore higher reducing power, than ascorbic acid and Trolox. Tannic acid and quercetin had the highest AO capacity followed by gallic and caffeic acids. Resveratrol showed the lowest reducing effect. Carotenoids had no ferric reducing ability. Polyphenol's AO efficiency seemed to depend on the extent of hydroxylation and conjugation.