Adriamycin, which is widely used in the treatment of various neoplastic conditions, exerts toxic effects in many organs. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of lipoic acid upon adriamycin induced peroxidative damages in rat kidney. The increase in peroxidated lipids on adriamycin administration was accompanied by alterations in the antioxidant defense systems. The extent of nephrotoxicity induced by adriamycin was evident from the decreased activities of the enzymes gamma-glutamyl transferase and beta-glucuronidase in the rat renal tissues. The study was carried out with adult male albino rats of Wistar strain, which comprised of one control and three experimental groups. Group I rats served as controls. Group II rats received adriamycin (1 mg kg(-1) body wt day(-1)) intravenously through the tail vein. Group III rats were given lipoic acid (35 mg kg(-1) body wt day(-1)) intraperitoneally. Group IV rats were given lipoic acid 24 h before the administration of adriamycin. Rats subjected to adriamycin administration showed a decline in the thiol capacity of the cell accompanied by high malondialdehyde levels along with lowered activities of catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione metabolizing enzymes (glutathione reductase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, glutathione-S-transferase). Lipoic acid pretreatment also restored the activities of gamma-glutamyl transferase and beta-glucuronidase nearly to control levels thereby suggesting nephroprotection. The study has highlighted the beneficial effects of lipoic acid pretreatment in reversing the damages caused by adriamycin and thereby bringing about an improvement in the oxidative stress parameters.