Protective effects of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) peel and their bioactive compounds on oxidative stress were investigated. According to HPLC-DAD and HPLC-MS/MS analysis, hesperidin (HD), hesperetin (HT), nobiletin (NT), and tangeretin (TT) were present in water extracts of sweet orange peel (WESP). The cytotoxic effect in 0.2 mM t-BHP-induced HepG2 cells was inhibited by WESP and their bioactive compounds. The protective effect of WESP and their bioactive compounds in 0.2 mM t-BHP-induced HepG2 cells may be associated with positive regulation of GSH levels and antioxidant enzymes, decrease in ROS formation and TBARS generation, increase in the mitochondria membrane potential and Bcl-2/Bax ratio, as well as decrease in caspase-3 activation. Overall, WESP displayed a significant cytoprotective effect against oxidative stress, which may be most likely because of the phenolics-related bioactive compounds in WESP, leading to maintenance of the normal redox status of cells. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.