The reactions of distonic 4-(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-methylphenyl and 5-(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-methylphenyl radical cations (m/z 149) with O 2 are studied in the gas phase using ion-trap mass spectrometry. Photodissociation (PD) of halogenated precursors gives rise to the target distonic charge-tagged methylphenyl radical whereas collision-induced dissociation (CID) is found to produce unreactive radical ions. The PD generated distonic radicals, however, react rapidly with O2 to form [M + O2]•+ and [M + O2 - OH]•+ ions, detected at m/z 181 and m/z 164, respectively. Quantum chemical calculations using G3SX(MP3) and M06-2X theories are deployed to examine key decomposition pathways of the 5-(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-methylphenylperoxyl radical and rationalise the observed product ions. The prevailing product mechanism involves a 1,5-H shift in the peroxyl radical forming a QOOH-type intermediate that subsequently eliminates •OH to yield charge-tagged 2-quinone methide. Our study suggests that the analogous process should occur for the neutral methylphenyl + O2 reaction, thus serving as a plausible source of •OH radicals in combustion environments.