The anticlastogenic effect of 12 structurally different flavonoids was investigated in whole body γ-ray irradiated mice. Each flavonoid was administered to ICR male mice by a single gastric intubation (5 μmol/kg) 6 h before γ-ray irradiation (1.5 Gy) and the frequency of micronucleated reticulocytes (MNRETs) in peripheral blood was determuted. In order to elucidate the mechanism of the anticlastogenic effect of these flavonoids, their antloxidative activities were examined by the thiobarbitunc acid method using methyl linoleate and Fenton's reagent (Fe2+/H2O2). Of the 12 flavonoids, luteolin had the most marked effect on reducing the frequencies of MNRETs and also Inhibiting lipid peroxidation. However, quercetin tetramethylether, which has methoxy groups instead of hydroxyl groups at the 3,7,3',4'-positions, and phloretin with an open C-ring showed the least anticlastogenic and antioxidative activity. A good correlation (r = 0.717, P < 0.01) was observed between the anticlastogenic activity and the antioxidative activity of the 12 flavonoids. These results suggest that the radioprotective effect of flavonoids in mice may be attributed to the hydroxyl radical scavenging potency in a direct or an endogenous enzyme mediated manner.