Increasing antioxidant capacity has been proposed as a promising strategy to prevent cigarette smoke-induced lung diseases. This study tested whether garlic extracts prevented cigarette smoke extract (CSE)-induced cell death in human bronchial smooth muscle cells (HBSMCs). Garlic extracts were prepared from fresh raw garlic (FRG), aged black garlic (ABG) and aged red garlic (ARG). Treatment of HBSMCs with 10% CSE induced cell death accompanied by activation of caspase. Of the garlic extracts, treatment with ARG extract reduced CSE-induced cell death. The combination of ARG extract with CSE attenuated the CSE-induced reduction in glutathione (GSH) content, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induction of heme oxygenase-1 expression compared with CSE treatment without ARG extract. Furthermore, the combination of L-BSO, a GSH synthesis inhibitor, with ARG and CSE extracts failed to increase the intracellular GSH content and cell viability. Taken together, these results demonstrate that ARG extract reduces CSE-induced cell death by increasing GSH content and reducing ROS generation in HBSMCs. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.