Increasing evidence implicates oxidative damage as a major mechanism in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We examined the effect of preventative treatment with N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), an agent that reduces free radical damage, in transgenic mice with a superoxide dismutase (SODI) mutation (G93A), used as an animal model of familial ALS. NAC was administered at 1% concentration in the drinking water from 4-5 weeks of age. The treatment caused a significantly prolonged survival and delayed onset of motor impairment in G93A mice treated with NAC compared to control mice. These results provide further evidence for the involvement of free radical damage in the G93A mice, and support the possibility that NAC, an over-the-counter antioxidant, could be explored in clinical trials for ALS.