We previously demonstrated that safflower seed extract (SSE) and its major antioxidant constituents, serotonin hydroxycinnamic acid amides, suppressed LDL oxidation in vitro, decreased plasma autoantibody titres to oxidized LDL and attenuated atherosclerotic lesion formation in apoE-deficient mice. In this report, we examined whether SSE, rich in serotonin derivatives, could affect markers of oxidative stress, inflammation and aortic stiffness in healthy human subjects. Twenty Japanese male volunteers were studied at baseline, after 2·1 g SSE supplementation daily (providing 290 mg serotonin derivatives/d) for 4 weeks, and after a 4-week washout period. Significant reductions in circulating oxidized LDL, autoantibody titres to malondialdehyde-modified LDL, the soluble form of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), and urinary 8-isoprostane were observed after a 4-week intervention. Although there were no statistically significant differences in blood pressure or brachial–ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV), an index of arterial stiffness, baPWV was lower than baseline in eleven of twenty subjects and was accompanied by a reduction in blood pressure. Statistically significant negative correlations were observed between the extent of initial cardiovascular risk markers (autoantibody titres, 8-isoprostane, sVCAM-1 and baPWV) and the effect of intervention. This suggested that individuals with elevated oxidative stress, inflammation, and/or arterial stiffness may receive more benefit from SSE supplementation.