Abstract: The growing interest in the substitution of synthetic food antioxidants by natural ones has fostered research on vegetable sources and the screening of raw materials for identifying new antioxidants. Oxidation reactions are not an exclusive concern for the food industry, and antioxidants are widely needed to prevent deterioration of other oxidisable goods, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and plastics. Polyphenols are the major plant compounds with antioxidant activity, although they are not the only ones. In addition, other biological properties such as anticarcinogenicity, antimutagenicity, antiallergenicity and antiaging activity have been reported for natural and synthetic antioxidants. Special attention is focussed on their extraction from inexpensive or residual sources from agricultural industries. The aim of this review, after presenting general aspects about natural antioxidants, is to focus on the extraction of antioxidant compounds (mainly polyphenols) from agricultural and industrial wastes, as well as to summarize available data on the factors affecting their antioxidant activity and stability, and, in some cases, the reported major active compounds identified.