Antioxidants are health beneficial compounds that can protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). This work reports the capacity assay of both lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidants simultaneously, by making use of their 'host-guest' complexes with methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (M-beta-CD), a cyclic oligosaccharide, in acetonated aqueous medium using the cupric reducing antioxidant capacity (CUPRAC) method. Thus the order of antioxidant potency of various compounds irrespective of their lipophilicity could be established in the same solvent medium. M-beta-CD was introduced as the water solubility enhancer for lipophilic antioxidants. Two percent M-beta-CD (w/v) in an acetone-H2O (9:1, v/v) mixture was found to sufficiently solubilize beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin E, vitamin C, synthetic antioxidants and other phenolic antioxidants. This assay was validated through linearity, additivity, precision, and recovery. The validation results demonstrate that the CUPRAC assay is reliable and robust. In acetonated aqueous solution of M-beta-CD, only CUPRAC and 2,2'-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS) assays were capable of measuring carotenoids together with hydrophilic antioxidants. The CUPRAC antioxidant capacities of a wide range of polyphenolics and flavonoids were experimentally reported in this work as trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) in the CUPRAC assay, and compared to those found by reference methods, ABTS/horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-H2O2 and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assays. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.