The antimutagenic activity of the methanolic extract of the fruiting bodies of Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) P. Krast. occurring in South India was investigated. The activity was assayed by Ames Salmonella mutagenicity test using histidine mutants of Salmonella typhimurium tester strains, TA98, TA100 and TA102. The methanolic extract of the mushroom significantly inhibited (P<0.001) the in vitro sodium azide (NaN(3)), N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG) and 4-nitro-o-phenylenediamine (NPD), and benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) induced his(+) revertants in a dose dependent manner. In vivo antimutagenic activity of extract was also assayed by determining the mutagenicity of the urine of rats administrated with B[a]P as a mutagen. The prior administration of extract markedly inhibited mutagenicity induced by B[a]P. The results indicated that the methanolic extract of Ganoderma lucidum occurring in South India possessed significant antimutagenic activity. The effect of B[a]P on hepatic enzymes, such as serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT), glutamate pyruvate transaminase (GPT) and alkaline phosphtase (ALP), were also evaluated. The extract prevented the increase of SGOT, SGPT, and ALP activities consequent to B[a]P challenge, and enhanced the levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and activities of glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT). The extract also profoundly inhibited lipid peroxidation induced by B[a]P. The results revealed that Ganoderma lucidum extract restored antioxidant defense and prevented hepatic damage consequent to the challenge by B[a]P.