In this study we investigated the effect of five therapeutically used drugs and four natural polyphenolic compounds on the mechanism of oxidative burst of human neutrophils concerning their participation in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The compounds investigated decreased the oxidative burst of whole blood in the rank order of potency: N-feruloylserotonin > quercetin > curcumin > arbutin > dithiaden > carvedilol. The generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species in isolated neutrophils decreased in the same rank order, while carvedilol was ineffective. Scavenging of extracellular oxygen radicals followed the rank order of potency: N-feruloylserotonin > curcumin > quercetin > dithiaden. Arbutin and carvedilol had no effect. All compounds tested increased the activity of caspase-3 in cell-free system indicating a positive effect on apoptosis of neutrophils. Activation of protein kinase C was significantly decreased by dithiaden, curcumin, quercetin and N-feruloylserotonin. Carvedilol, dithiaden, quercetin and arbutin reduced activated neutrophil myeloperoxidase release more significantly compared with their less pronounced effect on superoxide generation The presented results are indicative of pharmacological intervention with neutrophils in pathological processes. Of particular interest was the effect of natural compounds. Intracellular inhibition of oxidative burst in isolated neutrophils by the drugs tested and natural antioxidants has to be further analysed since ROS play an important role in immunological responses of neutrophils.