4-Oxoquinoline derivatives (quinolones) represent heterocyclic compounds with a variety of biological activities, along with interesting chemical reactivity. The quinolone derivatives possessing secondary amino hydrogen at the nitrogen of the enaminone system are oxidized with 3-chloroperbenzoic acid to nitroxide radicals in the primary step while maintaining their 4-pyridone ring. Otherwise, N-methyl substituted quinolones also form nitroxide radicals coupled with the opening of the 4-pyridone ring in a gradual oxidation of the methyl group via the nitrone–nitroxide spin-adduct cycle. This was confirmed in an analogous oxidation using N,N-dimethylaniline as a model compound. N-Ethyl quinolones in contrast to its N-methyl analog form only one nitroxide radical without a further degradation. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.