In this study, the effects of a water extract of Flos Inulae (WFI) on antioxidant, antimutation and antityrosinase were investigated. The results showed that WFI inhibited the mutagenicity of 2-aminoanthracene (2-AA), an indirect mutagen; and 4-nitroquinoline-N-oxide (4-NQO), a direct mutagen toward Salmonella typhimurium TA 98 and TA 100. In addition, WFI, in the range of 0.2-0.6 mg/ml, showed radical scavenging, reducing activities and chelating activity as well as decreased lipid oxidative damage. Meanwhile, WFI also inhibited tyrosinase activity and NO generation in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated macrophages. High performance liquid chromatography analysis suggests that the major phenolic constituents in WFI are chlorogenic acid, rutin, quercetin, luteolin and kaempferol. These bioactive components may contribute to the protective effects of WFI. The obtained data suggests that Flos Inulae can be applied to antimutation, antityrosinase and anti-inflammation. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.