In this review, we focus on the role of oxidative stress in the aetiology of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and colitis-associated colorectal cancer and discuss free radicals and free radical-stimulated pathways as pharmacological targets for anti-IBD drugs. We also suggest novel anti-oxidative agents, which may become effective and less-toxic alternatives in IBD and colitis-associated colorectal cancer treatment. A Medline search was performed to identify relevant bibliography using search terms including: ‘free radicals,’ ‘antioxidants,’ ‘oxidative stress,’ ‘colon cancer,’ ‘ulcerative colitis,’ ‘Crohn’s disease,’ ‘inflammatory bowel disease.’ Several therapeutics commonly used in IBD treatment, among which are immunosuppressants, corticosteroids and anti-TNF-α antibodies, could also affect the IBD progression by interfering with cellular oxidative stress and cytokine production. Experimental data shows that these drugs may effectively scavenge free radicals, increase anti-oxidative capacity of cells, influence multiple signalling pathways, e.g. MAPK and NF-kB, and inhibit pro-oxidative enzyme and cytokine concentration. However, their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effectiveness still needs further investigation. A highly specific antioxidative activity may be important for the clinical treatment and relapse of IBD. In the future, a combination of currently used pharmaceutics, together with natural and synthetic anti-oxidative compounds, like lipoic acid or curcumine, could be taken into account in the design of novel anti-IBD therapies.