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Propofol can scavenge free radicals because it has a chemical structure similar to antioxidants.We examined if free radical scavenging occurs with propofol during CABG operations. We studied 24 patients undergoing CABG surgery for triple vessel disease, randomized into two groups. After induction of anaesthesia with fentanyl 10 µg kg–1 and midazolam 0.1 mg kg–1, patients in the fentanyl group (n=14) received fentanyl infusion 10–30 µg kg–1 h–1 and patients in the propofol group (n=10) received propofol infusion 3–6 mg kg–1 h–1 for maintenance of anaesthesia. Atrial tissue biopsies were taken during cannulation for bypass, 45 min after cross-clamp insertion, 5 min after unclamping, and in the decannulation period. Lipid peroxidation was assessed by measurement of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in the atrial tissue samples.Lipid peroxidation in the propofol group was less than in the fentanyl group (P<0.05) in all sampling periods. Lipid peroxidation in the fentanyl group increased significantly during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) (P<0.05), but no increase was found in the propofol group (P>0.05).In clinical doses, propofol strongly attenuates lipid peroxidation during CABG surgery.