Correlation analysis based on chromatograms and pharmacological activities is essential for understanding the effective components in complex herbal medicines. In this report, HPLC and measurement of antioxidant properties were used to describe the active ingredients of Salvia miltiorrhiza injection (SMI). HPLC results showed that tanshinol, protocatechuic aldehyde, rosmarinic acid, salvianolic acid B, protocatechuic acid and their metabolites in rat serum may contribute to the efficacy of SMI. Assessment of antioxidant properties indicated that differences in the composition of serum powder of SMI caused differences in vascular endothelial cell protection. When bivariate correlation was carried out it was found that salvianolic acid B, tanshinol and protocatechuic aldehyde were active components of SMI because they were correlated to antioxidant properties.