The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the in vitro pro-oxidant effect of ascorbic acid towards thiol groups could be mediated by free radicals formed during its auto-oxidation and/or by a direct oxidation of -SH groups by its oxidized form (dehydroascorbic acid). This hypothesis was examined by measuring the rate of AA (ascorbic acid) oxidation in MOPS (3-morpholinepropanesulfonic acid buffer) and phosphate buffer (PB). Here we have used dithiothreitol (DTT) as model of vicinal thiol-containing enzymes, namely δ-aminolevulinate dehydratase. The rate of AA and DTT oxidation was more pronounced in the presence of PB than in the MOPS. AA oxidation induced by iron/EDTA complex was significantly reduced by addition of superoxide dismutase, catalase and DTT to the reaction medium. H2O2 alone did not stimulate the oxidation of AA; however, AA oxidation was enhanced significantly with the addition of crescent concentrations of iron. Conversely, in DTT oxidation assay (without AA) the addition of iron, EDTA and H2O2, did not promote the oxidation of -SH groups. Our findings suggest that in the presence of physiological concentrations of AA and thiols, the oxidation of -SH groups is mediated by AA conversion to dehydroascorbic acid with the participation of iron. Furthermore, free radical species formed during the auto-oxidation of AA apparently did not oxidize thiol groups to a significant extent.