Effects of microwave and conventional cooking methods were studied on total phenolics and antioxidant activity of pepper, squash, green beans, peas, leek, broccoli and spinach. Total phenolics content of fresh vegetables ranged from 183.2 to 1344.7 mg/100 g (as gallic acid equivalent) on dry weight basis. Total antioxidant activity ranged from 12.2% to 78.2%. With the exception of spinach, cooking affected total phenolics content significantly (p < 0.05). The effect of various cooking methods on total phenolics was significant (p < 0.05) only for pepper, peas and broccoli. After cooking, total antioxidant activity increased or remained unchanged depending on the type of vegetable but not type of cooking. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.