This study investigated the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of meats (beef, chicken, pork and fish) and its changes on thermal treatment. The QUENCHER procedure, which is performed directly on the solid material without extraction, was selected and proved to be particularly suitable for meat samples. The ABTS center dot(+) scavenging capacity of raw meats ranged between 25.9+/-1.0 and 51.7+/-1.2 mmol Trolox Eq./kg. Raw chicken had the highest TAC followed by pork, beef and fish. Upon heating at 180 degrees C, TAC of meats increased to an apparent maximum at 5 min followed by sudden decreases until 15 min. while the final stage of heating was characterized by slight increases. The modifications of TAC during cooking can be explained considering factors such as denaturation and exposure of reactive protein sites, degradation of endogenous antioxidants and the formation of Maillard reaction products having antioxidant properties. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.