It is found that green tea and black tea are able to protect against nitric oxide (NO .) toxicity in several ways. Both green tea and black tea scavenge NO . and peroxynitrite, inhibit the excessive production of NO. by the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and suppress the LPS-mediated induction of iNOS. The NO. scavenging activity of tea was less than that of red wine. The high activity found in the polyphenol fraction of black tea (BTP) could not be explained by the mixed theaflavin fraction (MTF) or catechins [epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)], which were tested separately. Synergistic effects between the compounds, or the presence of a potent, unidentified NO. scavenger, may explain the high activity of BTP. The peroxynitrite scavenging of tea was comparable to that of red wine. The main activity was found in the polyphenol fraction. MTF and the catechins were found to be potent peroxynitrite scavengers. Tea and tea components were effective inhibitors of iNOS. Of the tea components tested, only MTF had an activity higher than that of the tea powders. The polyphenol fractions of tea were much more active than the tea powders in suppressing the induction of iNOS. On the basis of its abundance and activity, EGCG was the most active inhibitor. The protective effect of tea on NO. toxicity is discussed in relation to the beneficial effect of flavonoid intake on the occurrence of cardiovascular heart disease.