The reaction mechanisms of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) with several tryptophan and tryptamine derivatives, previously reported to scavenge this powerful oxidant, was investigated to determine whether ionic or radical pathways were involved. For this purpose, the reaction of tryptamine and tryptophan derivatives with HOCl was optimized and some compounds were isolated by HPLC and their structures assigned. In order to prevent possible radical reaction pathway, experiments have been carried in the presence of the radical trap TEMPO (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl). The obtained results show that the reaction mechanisms are influenced by the type of structure and that a complex pathway is involved, in which both ionic and radical mechanisms can occur. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.