In this study, we examined the effects of the food antioxidants, alkyl gallates, on the function of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and elucidated the importance of alkyl chains and gallic acid moieties on the activity of P-gp. We examined the effects of three alkyl (n-butyl, n-octyl and n-dodecyl) gallates and their related compounds on the cellular accumulation and efflux of rhodamine 123 and daunorubicin in P-gp overexpressing KB-C2 cells. Alkyl gallates increased the cellular accumulation of these P-gp substrates dependent on their alkyl chain lengths by inhibiting the efflux of the substrates. n-Dodecylresorcinol also increased the accumulation, but its effect was less than that of n-dodecyl gallate. However, either lauric acid or n-dodecyl-beta-d-maltoside, which does not have a phenol group, did not increase the accumulation. The results indicated that both the gallic acid moiety and a long alkyl chain play important roles in the modification of P-gp function. The cytotoxicity of daunorubicin was recovered in the presence of alkyl gallates possibly due to their inhibition of P-gp function.