The effects of Fucus vesiculosus extract and fractions towards haemoglobin- (Hb-) catalysed lipid oxidation in washed cod muscle system and cod protein isolates during ice storage were examined. The extract and fractions were characterised in terms of total phlorotannin content (TPC), 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity, ferrous ion-chelating ability and reducing power. Progression of oxidation was followed by determining rancid odour, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), redness and volatile oxidation compounds by gas chromatography (GC). In both washed cod muscle and protein isolates, phlorotannin-enriched ethyl acetate (EtOAc) fraction showed higher inhibitory effect than crude 80% ethanol (EtOH) extract. The addition of oligomeric phlorotannin-rich subfraction (LH-2) separated by Sephadex LH-20 chromatography, completely inhibited the initiation of lipid peroxidation in both systems throughout the entire study period (8 days). Its effectiveness at 300 mg/kg level was comparable to that of 100 mg/kg propyl gallate (PG), a highly effective synthetic antioxidant in muscle foods. Although polymeric phlorotannin-rich subfraction (LH-5) had similar level of TPC and chemical antioxidant activities as oligomeric subfraction LH-2, it was far less efficient in model systems. These results suggest that other factors rather than the intrinsic reactivity toward radicals could be responsible for the inhibitory effect of phlorotannins on lipid oxidation in fish muscle. This study highlights the great potential of oligomeric phlorotannins as novel natural antioxidants in fish and fish products.