This study was designed to investigate the possible protective effect of lycopene against the renal toxic effects of OTA. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (<200 g, n = 6) were treated with OTA (0.5 mg/kg/day) and/or lycopene (5 mg/kg/day) by gavage for 14 days. Histopathological examinations were performed and apoptotic cell death in both cortex and medulla was evaluated by TUNEL assay. Besides, biochemical parameters and activities of renal antioxidant selenoenzymes [glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPx1), thioredoxin reductase (TrxR)], catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD); concentrations of total glutathione (GSH), and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured. OTA treatment was found to induce oxidative stress in rat kidney, as evidenced by marked decreases in CAT (35%) activity and GSH levels (44%) as well as increase in SOD activity (22%) vs control group. Furthermore, TUNEL analysis revealed a significant increase in the number of TUNEL-positive cells in cortex (49%) and medulla (75%) in OTA administrated group compared to control (p < 0.05). Lycopene supplementation with OTA increased GPx1 activity and GSH levels, and decreased apoptotic cell death in both cortex and medulla vs. control. The results of this study showed that at least one of the mechanisms underlying the renal toxicity of OTA is oxidative stress and apoptosis is the major form of cell death caused by OTA. Besides, our data indicate that the natural antioxidant lycopene might be partially protective against OTA-induced nephrotoxicity and oxidative stress in rat. (c) 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.