Amifostine is the only approved radioprotective agent by FDA for reducing the damaging effects of radiation on healthy tissues. In this study, the protective effect of amifostine against the damaging effects of ionizing radiation on the white matter (WM) and grey matter (GM) regions of the rat brain were investigated at molecular level. Sprague-Dawley rats, which were administered amifostine or not, were whole-body irradiated at a single dose of 800 cGy, decapitated after 24 h and the brain tissues of these rats were analyzed using Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIRM). The results revealed that the total lipid content and CH2 groups of lipids decreased significantly and the carbonyl esters, olefinic=CH and CH3 groups of lipids increased significantly in the WM and GM after exposure to ionizing radiation, which could be interpreted as a result of lipid peroxidation. These changes were more prominent in the WM of the brain. The administration of amifostine before ionizing radiation inhibited the radiation-induced lipid peroxidation in the brain. In addition, this study indicated that FTIRM provides a novel approach for monitoring ionizing radiation induced-lipid peroxidation and obtaining different molecular ratio images can be used as biomarkers to detect lipid peroxidation in biological systems. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.