Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds of sumac extracts were investigated. Sumac was extracted in methanol and subjected to solvent-solvent partitioning to yield two fractions as ethyl acetate and aqueous. Methanol extract was further fractioned over Sephadex LH-20 column. Antioxidant activity of extracts and fractions were screened using ferric thiocyanate and DPPH radical scavenging methods. Phenolic composition of active fraction(s) was determined by HPLC-MS systems. Those fractions which exhibited strong antioxidant activity were rich in anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins. While gallic acid was the main phenolic acid in the extracts, anthocyanin fraction contained cyanidin, peonidin, pelargonidin, petunidin, and delphinidin glucosides and coumarates. Pentagalloyl glucose was abundant in the hydrolysable tannin fraction. Effective scavenging concentration (EC50) on DPPH radical was 0.70 mu g/mL both in ethyl acetate and tannin fractions, and 5.33 mu g/mL in anthocyanin rich fraction. Same extracts and fractions showed moderate lipid peroxidation inhibition effect compared with the synthetic antioxidants. The findings demonstrate that sumac can be used as a natural antioxidant. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.