Summary Aqueous, methanol and dichloromethane extracts from Artemisia copa, Baccharis grisebachii, Baccharis incarum, Baccharis latifolia, Mutisia kurtzii and Pluchea sagittalis, plants used in the Traditional Medicine of South America, are studied for activity on the respiratory burst and the inducible heat shock protein of 72 kD (hsp72) synthesis. Activity on the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), as well as on hsp72 synthesis was measured by flow cytometry in human neutrophils. Cells were stimulated using hydrogen peroxide, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA) or formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP) for ROS generation, and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) or PMA in the presence of calmodulin inhibitor W-13 for RNS. The production of hsp72 was induced by heat, PMA, H 2O 2 and SNP. The best inhibitory activity was shown by the dichloromethane extracts of Baccharis grisebachii and Pluchea sagittalis that were active in all the assays. The aqueous extract of Pluchea sagittalis was also active in most assays. The aqueous extract from Mutisia kurtzii caused a clear increase of the hsp72 production and showed prooxidant activity.