Peptide concentrates generated by hydrolysis of whey with aqueous extracts of flowers of Cynara cardunculus were studied for possible protection of the stomach mucosa against ulcerative lesions caused by oral administration of absolute ethanol. Both the whole peptide fraction obtained via hydrolysis of whey protein concentrate (peptide concentrate, PepC) and its fraction below 3 kDa (PepCF) were able to reduce gastric injuries to significant levels (p < 0.05). Single-dose experiments, using 100 mg kg(-1) body weight (bw) of either PepCF or PepC, led to 68.5% and 37.4% protection, respectively - which compare well with 93.4% protection by 200 mg kg (1) bw carbenoxolone (a positive control). No dose-response correlation could be demonstrated. Gastric cytoprotection by PepCF appears to depend on sulphydryl-containing moieties, whereas PepC likely protects the gastric mucosa via the prostaglandin cycle and production of nitric oxide.