The antioxidant capacity of raspberry (Rubus idaeus), blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) and strawberry (Fragaria sp.). Colorimetric and spectroscopic analyses showed that raspberry, blackcurrant and strawberry exhibit a significant range of antioxidant capacity, the greatest being observed in blackcurrant. Significant varietal variation in antioxidant potential was observed for blackcurrant, although a wild cultivar of raspberry displayed an antioxidant potential almost double that of any cultivar. Vitamin C made varying contributions to the total antioxidant potential, i.e. 50, 40 and 15% for black currant, strawberry and raspberry, respectively. On the other hand, the phenolic content of the extracts was found to be directly related to the antioxidant potential. The relative protective effects of vitamin C and phenolics can be distinguished at least with regard to LDL oxidation and the initial stages of atherosclerosis.