Nicotinamide (vitamin B3) an endogenous metabolite, showed significant inhibition of oxidative damage induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by ascorbate-Fe2+ and photosensitization systems in rat brain mitochondria. It protected against both protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation, at millimolar concentrations. Inhibition was more pronounced against oxidation of proteins than peroxidation of lipids. Chemically related endogenous compounds, tryptophan and isonicotinic acid, showed comparable inhibitory properties. The protective effect observed, at biologically relevant concentrations, with nicotinamide was more than that of the endogenous antioxidants ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol. Hence our studies suggest that nicotinamide (vitamin B3) can be considered as a potent antioxidant capable of protecting the cellular membranes in brain, which is highly susceptible to prooxidants, against oxidative damage induced by ROS.