Aspirin causes gastroduodenal ulcers and complications. Food bioactive compounds could exert beneficial effects in the gastrointestinal tract. We evaluated whether apple polyphenol extract (APE) reduced aspirin-induced injury to the rat gastric mucosa. Rats were treated with APE (10− 4 m catechin equivalent) before oral aspirin (200 mg/kg). Cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2), transforming growth factor-α (TGFα) and heparin-binding epidermal-growth-factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) mRNA and protein expression were assessed by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively; malondialdehyde (MDA) was determined by HPLC; gastric secretion was evaluated in pylorus-ligated rats. APE decreased acute and chronic aspirin injury both macroscopically and microscopically (approximately 50 % decrease in lesion score; P < 0·05). Aspirin up-regulated mRNA and protein expression of COX-2 and HB-EGF, but not of TGFα; APE reduced aspirin-induced mRNA and protein over-expression of COX-2 and HB-EGF; aspirin significantly increased gastric MDA and this effect was counteracted by APE pre-treatment. APE did not significantly affect gastric acid secretion. In conclusion, APE reduces aspirin-induced gastric injury independently of acid inhibition. We speculate that APE might be of therapeutic use in the prophylaxis of aspirin-related gastropathy.