Soybean oil (SBO) is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (FA) and rumen bypass of SBO can contribute to increase the polyunsaturated FA proportion in milk fat. Citrus pulp (CPP) is a source of antioxidants but there is little information on the effects of CP administration on milk properties. This study was performed to determine the role of rumen microorganisms in the transfer of antioxidants from CPP into milk when cows receive SBO as a source of polyunsaturated FA. Four ruminally fistulated lactating Holstein cows were assigned to a 4 × 4 Latin square design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments: (1) SBO administered in the rumen; (2) SBO infused in the abomasum; (3) SBO + CPP administered in the rumen; and (4) SBO + CPP infused in the abomasum. Product and site of administration had no effect on yield of milk components. Concentrations of total polyphenols and flavonoids, reducing power and production of conjugated diene (CD) hydroperoxides in milk were not affected by products, but infusion in the abomasum compared with administration in the rumen increased production of CD. Milk fat FA profile was not affected by products. However, cows infused in the abomasum compared with those administered in the rumen showed lower proportions of short-chain and monounsaturated FA and higher proportions of polyunsaturated, omega 3 and omega 6 FA in milk fat, which resulted in enhanced health-promoting index of milk. Administration of SBO and CPP (0·2 + 1·0 kg/d) in the rumen or the abomasum resulted in similar milk antioxidant properties, thus suggesting that the rumen microbes have little involvement in the metabolism of antioxidants from CPP.