Activation of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a potential therapeutic intervention against endothelial cell oxidative stress and associated vascular disease. We hypothesized that treatment with the phytochemicals in the patented dietary supplement Protandim would induce Nrf2 nuclear localization and phase II antioxidant enzyme protein in human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs), protecting against an oxidant challenge in an Nrf2- dependent manner. Protandim treatment induced Nrf2 nuclear localization, and HO-1 (778% of control ± 82.25 P < 0.01), SOD1 (125.9% of control ± 6.05 P < 0.01), NQO1 (126% of control ± 6.5 P < 0.01), and GR (119.5% of control ± 7.00 P < 0.05) protein expression in HCAEC. Treatment of HCAEC with H(2)O(2) induced apoptosis in 34% of cells while pretreatment with Protandim resulted in only 6% apoptotic cells (P < 0.01). Nrf2 silencing significantly decreased the Protandim-induced increase in HO-1 protein (P < 0.01). Nrf2 silencing also significantly decreased the protection afforded by Protandim against H(2)O(2)- induced apoptosis (P < 0.01 compared to no RNA, and P < 0.05 compared to control RNA). These results show that Protandim induces Nrf2 nuclear localization and antioxidant enzyme expression, and protection of HCAEC from an oxidative challenge is Nrf2 dependent.