Eccentric muscle contraction causes fibre injury associated with disruption of the myofibrillar cytoskeleton. The medicinal plant Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer, known for its therapeutic properties, was studied to explore its protective effects after eccentric contraction. A crude extract and a standardised extract (G115) of different saponin compositions were tested as to their efficacy in reducing lipid peroxidation, inflammation and release of myocellular proteins after the realisation of an eccentric contraction protocol on a rat treadmill. Plasma creatine kinase (CK) levels were significantly reduced by approximately 25% after ingestion of both extracts of ginseng. Both extracts reduced lipid peroxidation by approximately 15% as measured by malondialdehyde levels. beta-Glucuronidase concentrations and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) levels, which can be considered markers of inflammation, were also significantly reduced. The values of beta-glucuronidase were increased from 35.9+/-1.5 to 128.4+/-8.1 in vastus and to 131.1+/-12.1 U x g(-1) in rectus, the protection due to ginseng administration being approximately 40% in both muscles. Both extracts appeared to be equally effective in reducing injuries and inflammation caused by eccentric muscle contractions.