This study investigated how ferulic acid (FA) affects the formation of certain Maillard reaction products (MRPs), i.e., early MRPs, fluorescent and non-fluorescent advanced glycation end products (ACES), and melanoidins in model systems. Glycation mixtures were prepared containing soy glycinin or bovine serum albumin (final concentration 10 mg/ml) and fructose (222 mM) in 0.2% KOH in the presence or absence of FA (12.95 mM) and incubated at 60 degrees C for 60 min. The extent of the MR was estimated by analysis of free amino groups, the incorporation of sugar into the protein backbone as well as the formation of N(epsilon)-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML), fluorescent AGES (lambda(exc) = 337 nm, lambda(em) = 350-550 nm) and melanoidins (absorbance at 420 nm). Formation of CML and fluorescent AGEs was reduced by nearly 90% by the addition of FA while early MRPs and melanoidins were inhibited to a lesser extent (similar to 10% and 28%, respectively) compared to AGE formation. A controlled formation of early MRPs was achieved by use of FA, and it is a new finding. To the best of our knowledge, for the first time the use of FA as a reliable means of obtaining novel glycoprotein preparations containing low amounts of AGEs, with the potential to be used as functional food ingredients, is proposed.