The radioprotective effect of miso, a fermentation product from soy bean, was investigated with reference to the survival time, crypt survival and jejunum crypt length in male B6C3F1 mice. Miso at three different fermentation stages (early-, medium- and long-term fermented miso) was mixed in MF diet into biscuits at 10% and was administered from 1 week before irradiation. Animal survival in the long-term fermented miso group was significantly prolonged as compared with the short-term fermented miso and MF cases after 8 Gy of 60Co-gamma-ray irradiation at a dose rate of 2Gy min(-1). Delay in mortality was evident in all three miso groups, with significantly increased survival. At doses of 10 and 12 Gy X-irradiation at a dose rate of 4 Gy min(-1), the treatment with long-term fermented miso significantly increased crypt survival. Also the protective influence against irradiation in terms of crypt lengths in the long-term fermented miso group was significantly greater than in the short-term or medium-term fermented miso and MF diet groups. Thus, prolonged fermentation appears to be very important for protection against radiation effects.