We investigated the cytoprotective effect of phloroglucinol, which was isolated from Ecklonia cava (brown alga), against oxidative stress induced cell damage in Chinese hamster lung fibroblast (V79-4) cells. Phloroglucinol was found to scavenge 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hydroxy radical, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), and thus prevented lipid peroxidation. As a result, phloroglucinol reduced H2O2 induced apoptotic cells formation in V79-4 cells. In addition, phloroglucinol inhibited cell damage induced by serum starvation and radiation through scavenging ROS. Phloroglucinol increased the catalase activity and its protein expression. In addition, catalase inhibitor abolished the protective effect of phloroglucinol from H2O2 induced cell damage. Furthermore, phloroglucinol increased phosphorylation of extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK). Taken together, the results suggest that phloroglucinol protects V79-4 cells against oxidative damage by enhancing the cellular catalase activity and modulating ERK signal pathway. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.