Iron nitrilotriacetate (Fe-NTA) is a potent nephrotoxic agent. In this communication we show that Fe-NTA-mediated nephrotoxicity is diminished by 1 wk of oral daily pretreatment of male albino Wistar rats with garlic oil given by gavage at 50 or 100 mg/kg body weight/ml corn oil. Intraperitoneal Fe-NTA treatment at a dose level of 9 mg Fe/kg body weight/10 ml enhances renal microsomal lipid peroxidation and hydrogen peroxide generation which are accompanied by a decrease in the activities of renal antioxidant enzymes (e.g. catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and glutathione S-transferase), and a depletion in the level of renal glutathione. Parallel to these changes, a sharp increase in blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine has been observed. In addition, Fe-NTA treatment also enhances renal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and increases [3H]thymidine incorporation into renal DNA. Prophylactic treatment of animals with garlic oil before the administration of Fe-NTA resulted in the diminution of Fe-NTA mediated injury. The enhancement of renal lipid peroxidation and hydrogen peroxide generation was decreased. In addition, there was recovery of glutathione depletion and inhibition of the activities of antioxidant enzymes. Similarly, in animals given the higher dose of garlic oil (100 mg/kg body weight) the enhanced blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine levels, which are indicative of renal injury, showed a reduction of about 30% and 40%, respectively, in comparison with the group treated with Fe-NTA alone. Pretreatment with garlic oil also ameliorated the Fe-NTA-mediated induction of ODC activity and enhancement of [3H]thymidine incorporation into DNA in a dose-dependent manner. Our data suggest that garlic oil is a potent chemopreventive agent and may suppress Fe-NTA-induced nephrotoxicity.