Chitosan is a biodegradable and biocompatible natural scaffold material, which has numerous applications in biomedical sciences. In this study, the in vitro antioxidant activity of chitosan scaffold material was investigated by the chemiluminescence signal generated from the hydroxyl radical (•OH) scavenging assay. The scavenging mechanism was also discussed. The results indicated that the free radical scavenging ability of chitosan scaffold material significantly depends on the chitosan concentration and shows interesting kinetic change. Within the experimental concentration range, the optimal concentration of chitosan was 0.2 mg/mL. The molecular weight of chitosan also attributed to the free radical scavenging ability. Comparison between chitosan and its derivative found that carboxymethyl chitosan possessed higher scavenging ability. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 102A: 911–916, 2014.