This investigation evaluated the gastroprotective activity of Astragaloside IV, a cycloartane-type triterpene glycoside isolated from Astragalus zahlbruckneri. Gastric mucosal damage was induced in rats by intragastric ethanol (1 mL/rat). Rats treated orally with Astragaloside IV suspended in Tween 80 at 3, 10 and 30 mg kg(-1), showed 15, 37 and 52% gastroprotection, respectively. The gastroprotection observed at 30 mg kg(-1) for this compound was attenuated in rats pretreated with N-G-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (70 mg kg(-1), i.p.), a nitric oxide (NO)-synthase inhibitor, suggesting that the gastroprotective mechanism of this glycoside involves, at least in part, the participation of NO. The gastroprotective effect of Astragaloside IV was not affected by the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis with indometacin (110 mg kg(-1), s.c.) nor by the block of endogenous sulfhydryls with N-ethylmaleimide (NEM, 10 mg kg(-1), s.c.). Carbenoxolone was used as a gastroprotective model drug and showed a dose-dependent gastroprotective effect (25, 43 and 88% of gastroprotection, at 3, 10 and 30 mg kg(-1), respectively). The partial participation of prostaglandins, sulfhydryls and NO was observed in the gastroprotective mechanism of carbenoxolone.