The problem of interference of antioxidants, such as hindered phenols, with peroxide-initiated crosslinking of polyethylene was addressed through the use of functional (reactive) graftable antioxidants (g-AO). Reactive derivatives of hindered phenol and hindered amine antioxidants were synthesised, characterised and used to investigate their grafting reactions in high density polyethylene; both non-crosslinked (PE) and highly peroxide-crosslinked (PEXa). Assessment of the extent of in-situ grafting of the antioxidants, their retention after exhaustive solvent extraction in PE and PEXa, and the stabilising performance of the grafted antioxidants (g-AO) in the polymer were examined and benchmarked against conventionally stabilised crosslinked & non-crosslinked polyethylene. It was shown that the functional antioxidants graft to a high extent in PEXa, and that the level of interference of the g-AOs with the polymer crosslinking process was minimal compared to that of conventional antioxidants which bear the same antioxidant function. The much higher level of retention of the g-AOs in PEXa after exhaustive solvent extraction, compared to that of the corresponding conventional antioxidants, accounts for their superior long-term thermal stabilising performance under severe extractive conditions.