Eleven edible leafy vegetables of India have been analysed for their free radical-scavenging activity in different systems of assay, e.g. DPPH radical-scavenging activity, superoxide radical-scavenging activity in riboflavin/light/NBT system, hydroxyl radical-scavenging activity, and inhibition of lipid peroxidation induced by FeSO4 in egg yolk. Total antioxidant activity was measured, based on the reduction of Mo(VI) to Mo(V) by the extract and subsequent formation of green phosphate/Mo(V) complex at acid pH. The extracts were found to have different levels of antioxidant properties in the systems tested. Considering all the activities, it can be said that Ipomoea reptans has good activity amongst the eleven plant materials screened for their antioxidant properties. Lowest activity was found in Nyctanthes arbortristis. Many flavonoids and related polyphenols contribute significantly to the total antioxidant activity of many fruits and vegetables. However, there was no correlation between antioxidant activity and total phenol/flavonoid content. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.