Recently we demonstrated that the C(7)-unsubstituted tetrahydro-1,8-naphthyridin-3-ol has more than an order of magnitude better peroxyl radical trapping activity than alpha-tocopherol (alpha-TOH) in inhibited autoxidations in benzene. In order to prepare analogues more structurally related to alpha-TOH for further studies in vitro and in vivo, we developed synthetic approaches to C(7)-monoalkyl and C(7)-dialkyl analogues using a sequence involving (1) AgNO3-mediated hydroxymethyl radical addition to 1,8-naphthyridine, (2) regioselective alkyllithium addition by cyclic chelation in a nonpolar solvent, (3) iodination of the naphthyridine at C(3), and (4) CuI-medidated benzyloxylation of the aryl iodide followed by catalytic hydrogenolysis. An alpha-TOH isostere was prepared by a Wittig coupling of a C16 side chain identical to that of alpha-TOH to the naphthyridinols. The C(7)-mono- and dialkyl analogues exhibited more than an order of magnitude higher antioxidant activity (k(inh) = (5.3-6.1) x 10(7) M(-1) s(-1)) than alpha-TOH (k(inh) = 0.35 x 10(7) M(-) s(-1)) in benzene, as determined by a newly developed peroxyl radical clock. In addition to the strong antioxidant activity in benzene, the closest alpha-TOH analogue (naphthyridinol-based tocopherol, N-TOH) showed excellent inhibition of the oxidation of cholesteryl esters in human low-density lipoprotein and spared endogenous alpha-TOH in these experiments. Lateral diffusion of N-TOH in 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine liposomes was comparable to that of alpha-TOH, suggesting that it will have good antioxidant characteristics in both membranes and lipoproteins. Furthermore, a binding assay using a fluorescent tocopherol analogue showed that N-TOH binds to recombinant human tocopherol transfer protein better than alpha-TOH itself, suggesting that distribution of unnatural antioxidants such as N-TOH in vivo is possible.