Various dietary polyphenolics have been found to show an inhibitory effect on xanthine oxidase (XO) which mediates oxidative stress-originated diseases because of its ability to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), including superoxide anion radical (O-2(center dot-)) and hydrogen peroxide. XO activity has usually been determined by following the rate of uric acid formation from xanthine-xanthine oxidase (X-XO) system using the classical XO activity assay (UV-method) at 295 nm. Since some polyphenolics have strong absorption from the UV to visible region, XO-inhibitory activity of polyphenolics was alternatively determined without interference by directly measuring the formation Of uric acid and hydrogen peroxide using the modified CUPRAC (cupric reducing antioxidant capacity) spectrophotometric method at 450 turn. The CUPRAC absorbance of the incubation Solution due to the reduction of Cu(II)-neocuproine reagent by the products of the X-XO system decreased in the presence of polyphenolics, the difference being proportional to the XO inhibition ability of the tested compound. The structure-activity relationship revealed that the flavones and flavonols with a 7-hydroxyl group such as apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin inhibited XO-inhibitory activity at low concentrations (IC50 values from 1.46 to 1.90 mu M), while the flavan-3-ols and naringin were less inhibitory. The findings of the developed method for quercetin and catechin in the presence of catalase were statistically alike with those of HPLC. In addition to polyphenolics, five kinds of herbs were evaluated for their XO-inhibitory activity using the developed method. The proposed spectrophotometric method was practical, low-cost, rapid, and could reliably assay uric acid and hydrogen peroxide in the presence of polyphenols (flavonoids, simple phenolic acids and hydroxycinnamic acids), and less open to interferences by UV-absorbing substances. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.