A reversed-phase HPLC coupled on-line to a radical scavenging detection system and MS/MS was developed in order to combine separation, activity determination and structural identification of anti-oxidants in complex mixtures in one run. The sample was separated by HPLC and the eluate split into two flows. The major portion was fed into an electrospray ionisation MS/MS system, while the minor part was mixed with a free radical, 2,2′-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), and the reaction determined spectrophotometrically. The negative peaks, which indicated the presence of anti-oxidant activity, were monitored by measuring the decrease in absorbance at 517 nm. The developed method was successfully applied to the identification of anti-oxidant compounds in a fraction, obtained by solid-phase extraction, of an extract of a Thai medicinal plant, Butea superba Roxb. The anti-oxidant compounds were separated and identified as procyanidin B2, (-)-epicatechin and procyanidin B5. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.