Flaxseed (linseed, Linum usitatissimum, Linaceae) is widely used for its edible oil in many parts of the world. The present study investigates the radioprotective and antioxidative potential of flaxseed oil (FO). Swiss albino mice were administered FO orally once daily for 15 consecutive days, then exposed to a single dose of 5 Gy of gamma radiation. Lipid peroxide, reduced glutathione and total protein were estimated in the liver. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), acid and alkaline phosphatase estimations in serum were also carried out. Radiation-induced increases in the levels of lipid peroxidation (LPO), AST, ALT and acid phosphatase were significantly ameliorated by flaxseed oil pretreatment, and radiation-induced depletion in the level of glutathione (GSH) and alkaline phosphatase activities was significantly inhibited by flaxseed oil administration. The lifespan was increased in the flaxseed oil treated irradiated mice in comparison with their respective control mice, with survival data showing an LD(50/30) (lethal dose for 50% of animals after 30 days) of 7.1 and 10 Gy for control and FO treated irradiated mice, respectively, and produced a dose reduction factor for flaxseed oil (DRF) of 1.40. Radiation-induced deficits in body and organ weight were significantly reduced or prevented in flaxseed oil pretreated mice. The protection afforded by flaxseed oil may be attributed to the constituents of the oil, which include omega-3 essential fatty acids and phytoestrogenic lignans, which appear to play an important role in free radical scavenging and singlet oxygen quenching. The study does not rule out the possibility of a prophylactic potential of flaxseed oil against radiation-induced degenerative changes in liver.