Among various phenolic compounds, caffeic acid (3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid) exhibited pharmacological antioxidant, anticancer and antimutagenic activities. The antioxidant properties of phenolic compounds depend on their chemical structure, however, the role of the ethylenic side chain in the radical scavenging activity remains controversial. Thus, the aim of this study consisted to test cinnamic acid and 15 cinnamic acid derivatives in the well known CCl(4)-induced acute liver damage model, which is dependent on oxidative stress mechanisms. Cinnamic acid and 15 cinnamic acid derivatives (50 mg/kg, p.o.) were administered to male Wistar rats intoxicated with CCl(4) (4 g/kg, p.o.). The activities of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, alkaline phosphatase and alanine aminotransferase were measured in serum. The lipid peroxidation products were determined in liver. Compounds with a methoxy group at position 3 or 4, or a 3,4-methylenedioxy moiety were the most active ones. Also, we observed that the monosubstituted 3 or 4 hydroxy, or the bulky 3,4 dibenzyloxy substituted compounds showed lower activity. The poorest activity was displayed by disubstituted 3,4-dihydroxy, dimethoxy or diacetyl cinnamic acid derivatives, the ester derived from cinnamic acid with an 8 carbon chain and N-dimethyl substituted compound. Thus, the methoxy substituted group at positions 3 or 4 or the 3,4-methylenedioxy moiety in the caffeic acid derivatives; seem to be the main features required for the hepatoprotection in this model.