Ferric nitrilotriacetate (Fe-NTA) is a potent renal and hepatic tumor promoter, which acts through a mechanism involving oxidative stress. Fe-NTA when injected intraperitoneally into rats induces hepatic ornithine decarboxylase activity as well as hepatic DNA synthesis. Vitamin E is a wellknown, lipid-soluble and chain-breaking antioxidant which protects cell membranes from peroxidative damage. In this study, we investigated the protective effect of vitamin E, a major fat-soluble antioxidant, against Fe-NTA-mediated hepatic oxidative stress, toxicity and hyperproliferation in Wistar rats. Animals were treated with two different doses of vitamin E for 1 week prior to Fe-NTA treatment. Vitamin E at a higher dose of 2.0 mg/animal/day showed significant reduction in Fe-NTA-induced hepatic ornithine decarboxylase activity, DNA synthesis, microsomal lipid peroxidation and hydrogen peroxide generation. Fe-NTA treatment alone caused depletion of glutathione, glutathione metabolizing and antioxidant enzymes in rat liver, whereas pretreatment of animals with vitamin E reversed these changes in a dose-dependent manner. Taken together, our results suggest that vitamin E may afford substantial protection against the damage caused by Fe-NTA exposure and can serve as a potent preventive agent to suppress oxidant-induced tissue injury. © W. S. Maney & Son Ltd.