The `French Paradox' has been attributed to the regular drinking of red wine. The beneficial effects of red wine could be related to both the alcohol and antioxidant activities of red wine polyphenols. However, it is not clear whether the alcohol component is important and the results of intervention trials are conflicting. In the present report, we have examined the polyphenol composition of red wines used in the various studies and have suggested a few possible reasons for discrepancies in their effects on lipoprotein oxidation. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.