Chronic inflammatory diseases, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or cystic fibrosis, are characterised by neutrophil infiltration in inflamed tissues. Dysregulated neutrophil death may contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases where neutrophils play a role. Stilbene derivatives are reported to activate apoptosis in different cell lines. Neutrophils from healthy volunteers were incubated in vitro with resveratrol, pterostilbene, pinosylvin or piceatannol (1-100 μmol/l), and cytotoxicity and apoptosis were measured by luminometry and flow cytometry, respectively. Enhancement and/or inhibition of human recombinant caspase-3 enzyme activity were measured by luminometry. None of the stilbene derivatives tested increased ATP liberation from human neutrophils, thus showing no direct cytotoxicity effect. Resveratrol and piceatannol (100 μmol/l) treated neutrophils had a higher rate of apoptosis compared to non-treated cells. Pterostilbene and pinosylvin (1 μmol/l), yet not resveratrol or piceatannol, increased the activity of caspase-3. However in the concentration of 100 μmol/l, all stilbene derivatives tested inhibited caspase-3 activity. Their effects on human neutrophil apoptosis differed according to the structure of the molecule. Additional studies are required to get insight into the mechanisms involved in the effects of the substances tested on neutrophil viability.