In the presence of ciprofloxacin (CPFX), free radical adduct formation was demonstrated in rat cerebral microsomes using a spin trap alpha-(4-pyridyl-1-oxide)-N-tert-butyl-nitrone by electron spin resonance spectroscopy. Active microsomes, dihydronicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide phosphate, and ciprofloxacin were necessary for the formation of a spin trap/radical adduct. Adduct formation increased dose-dependently at 0.5-1 mM CPFX concentration for 180 min, and 0.3-1 mM concentration level for 240 min. The addition of SKF 525A, ZnCl2 or desferrioxamine to the incubation system caused complete inhibition of the radical formation. However, pretreatment of microsomal system with superoxide dismutase (SOD) did not induce any protective effect. Induction of lipid peroxidation, and depletion of thiol levels by CPFX were also shown in the system. These results strongly suggested that CPFX produces free radical(s) in the cerebral microsomes of rats.