Induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) may serve as an immediate protective response during treatment with the cytostatic drug cisplatin (CDDP). Oxidative pathways participate in the characteristic nephrotoxicity of CDDP. In the present study, cultured tubular cells (LLC-PK1) were used to investigate whether induction of HO provided protection against CDDP by maintaining the cellular redox balance. The antioxidants, alpha-tocopherol (TOCO) and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), were used to demonstrate that elevation of ROS levels contribute to the development of CDDP-induced cytotoxicity. Chemical modulators of HO activity were used to investigate the role of HO herein. Hemin was used to specifically induce HO-1, while exposure of the cells to tin-protoporphyrin (SnPP) was shown to inhibit HO activity. Hemin treatment prior to CDDP-exposure significantly decreased the generation of ROS to control levels, while inhibition of HO increased the ROS levels beyond the levels measured in cells treated with CDDP alone. Furthermore, HO induction protected significantly against the cytotoxicity of CDDP, although this protection was limited. Similar results were obtained when the cells were preincubated with TOCO, suggesting that mechanisms other than impairment of the redox ratio are important in CDDP-induced loss of cell viability in vitro. In addition, SnPP treatment exacerbated the oxidative response and cytotoxicity of CDDP, especially at low CDDP concentrations. We therefore conclude that HO is able to directly limit the CDDP-induced oxidative stress response and thus serves as safeguard of the cellular redox balance.