We reported previously that the methanolic root extract of the Indian medicinal plant Pluchea indica Less. (Asteraceae) could neutralize viper venom-induced action [Alam, M.I., Auddy, B., Gomes, A., 1996. Viper venom neutralization by Indian medicinal plant (Hemidesmus indicus and P. indica) root extracts. Phytother. Res. 10, 58-61]. The present study reports the neutralization of viper and cobra venom by beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol isolated from the root extract of P. indica Less. (Asteraceae). The active fraction (containing the major compound beta-sitosterol and the minor compound stigmasterol) was isolated and purified by silica gel column chromatography and the structure was determined using spectroscopic analysis (EIMS, (1)H NMR, (13)C NMR). Anti-snake venom activity was studied in experimental animals. The active fraction was found to significantly neutralize viper venom-induced lethal, hemorrhagic, defibrinogenation, edema and PLA(2) activity. Cobra venom-induced lethality, cardiotoxicity, neurotoxicity, respiratory changes and PLA(2) activity were also antagonized by the active component. It potentiated commercial snake venom antiserum action against venom-induced lethality in male albino mice. The active fraction could antagonize venom-induced changes in lipid peroxidation and superoxide dismutase activity. This study suggests that beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol may play an important role, along with antiserum, in neutralizing snake venom-induced actions.