Abstract: 2,5-Dihydroxy-[1,4]-benzoquinone (DHBQ) and 5,8-dihydroxy-[1,4]-naphthoquinone (DHNQ) are two key chromophores which are almost ubiquitous in cellulosic materials. Their fate under conditions of alkaline peroxide bleaching (P stage) has been established previously, but the intermediacy of cyclic peroxides, which so far had only been postulated, remained an open issue. By means of 17O NMR spectroscopy, additionally supported by other NMR techniques, it was demonstrated that both DHBQ and DHNQ form cyclic peroxides as primary intermediates in the reaction with hydrogen peroxide under alkaline conditions. These intermediates are subsequently further degraded to products already known. The experimental confirmation of the cyclic peroxides is an important step in the understanding of reaction mechanisms in pulp bleaching chemistry. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].