A novel formulation of curcumin in combination with the phospholipids was developed to overcome the limitation of absorption and to investigate the protective effect of curcumin-phospholipid complex on carbon tetrachloride induced acute liver damage in rats. The antioxidant activity of curcumin-phospholipid complex (equivalent of curcumin 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight) and free curcumin (100 and 200 mg/kg body weight) was evaluated by measuring various enzymes in oxidative stress condition. Curcumin-phospholipid complex significantly protected the liver by restoring the enzyme levels of liver glutathione system and that of superoxide dismutase, catalase and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances with respect to carbon tetrachloride treated group (P < 0.05 and <0.01). The complex provided better protection to rat liver than free curcumin at same doses. Serum concentration of curcumin obtained from the complex (equivalent to 1.0 g/kg of curcumin) was higher (Cmax 1.2 microg/ml) than pure curcumin (1.0 g/kg) (Cmax 0.5 microg/ml) and the complex maintained effective concentration of curcumin for a longer period of time in rat serum. The result proved that curcumin-phospholipid complex has better hepatoprotective activity, owe to its superior antioxidant property, than free curcumin at the same dose level.