The consequences of oxidative stress and inflammation are implicated in a wide range of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson's disease. The status of antioxidant capacity in rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson's disease remains unclear, in part due to common practice of assaying erythrocytes separately to plasma. This method removes any synergistic interactions between plasma and erythrocyte-based antioxidants. The experiments in this report tested antioxidant capacity in whole blood, erythrocytes and plasma by group and disease stage. Medically diagnosed patients were recruited along with appropriate control group participants. Fasting venous blood was assayed using chemiluminescence methods for: time to maximum light emitted, maximum light emitted, and plasma antioxidant capacity in vitamin E analogue units. Here we demonstrate that whole blood exhibits higher antioxidant capacity than either plasma or erythrocytes assayed separately. We report increased oxidative stress in the blood of rheumatoid arthritis patients by group (p = 0.018, p = 0.049). We show increased antioxidant capacity in Parkinson's disease patients by group (p < 0.001). For later stage Parkinson's disease patients, we report reduced oxidative stress (p = 0.025), and increased antioxidant capacity and for erythrocytes (p < 0.001, p = 0.004) and whole blood (p < 0.001, p = 0.003). Early stage Parkinson's disease showed higher antioxidant capacity on only one measure (p = 0.008). Whole blood chemiluminescence is a useful technique for determining redox status in disease and might help clarify the role of oxidative stress in rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson's disease.