Chain-breaking antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene, α- tocopherol, and probucol have been shown to decrease markedly the oxidative modification of low density lipoprotein (LDL). Their mechanism of action appears to involve scavenging of LDL-lipid peroxyl radicals. The purpose of this study was to investigate the occurrence of radical reactions produced during oxidation of LDL and LDL-containing probucol initiated by lipoxygenase or copper. In addition, we have investigated the possibility of a synergistic interaction between ascorbate and probucol in inhibiting the oxidation of LDL. Incubation of LDL-containing probucol and lipoxygenase produced a composite electron spin resonance (ESR) spectrum due to the endogenous α- tocopheroxyl radical and probucol-derived phenoxyl radical. The spectral assignment was further verified by chemical oxidation of α-tocopherol and probucol. In the presence of ascorbic acid, these radicals in the LDL particle were reduced to their parent compounds with concomitant formation of the ascorbate radical. In both the peroxidation of linoleic acid and the copper-initiated peroxidation of LDL, the antioxidant activity of probucol was significantly increased by low (3-6 μM) concentrations of ascorbate. The probucol-dependent inhibition of LDL oxidation was enhanced in the presence of ascorbic acid. We conclude that the reaction between the phenoxyl radical of probucol and ascorbate results in a synergistic enhancement of the antioxidant capacity of these two compounds and speculate that such reactions could play a role in maintaining the antioxidant status of LDL during oxidative stress in vivo.