We have undertaken a detailed study of the antioxidant activity of allicin, one of the main thiosulfinates in garlic, in order to obtain quantitative information on it as a chain-breaking antioxidant. The antioxidant actions of allicin against the oxidation of cumene and methyl linoleate (ML) in chlorobenzene were studied in detail using HPLC. The hydroperoxides formed during the course of the inhibited oxidation of ML were analyzed as their corresponding alcohols by HPLC, and it is apparent that an allylic hydrogen atom of the allicin is responsible for the antioxidant activity. Furthermore, it is clear that the radical-scavenging reactions of allicin proceed via a one-step hydrogen atom transfer based on the results of the reaction with 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) in the presence of Mg2+ and calculation of the ionization potential value. In addition, we determined the stoichiometric factor (n), the number of peroxyl radicals trapped by one antioxidant molecule, of allicin by measuring the reactivity toward DPPH in chlorobenzene, and the value of n for allicin was about 1.0. Therefore, we measured the rate constants, k(inh), for the reaction of allicin with peroxyl radicals during the induction period of the cumene and the ML oxidation. As a result, we found that allicin reacts with peroxyl radicals derived from cumene and ML with the rate constants k(inh) = 2.6 x 10(3) M(-1)s(-1) and 1.6 x 10(5) M(-1)s(-1) in chlorobenzene, respectively. Our results demonstrate for the first time reliable quantitative kinetic data and the antioxidative mechanism of allicin as an antioxidant.