Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is rich in several bioactive compounds that can act as free radical scavengers. Since oxidative DNA damage is involved in various pathological states such as cancer, the aim of this study was to evaluate the antioxidant activity of mate tea as well as the ability to influence DNA repair in male Swiss mice. Forty animals were randomly assigned to four groups. The animals received three different doses of mate tea aqueous extract, 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 g/kg, for 60 days. After intervention, the liver, kidney and bladder cells were isolated and the DNA damage induced by H(2)O(2) was investigated by the comet assay. The DNA repair process was also investigated for its potential to protect the cells from damage by the same methodology. The data presented here show that mate tea is not genotoxic in liver, kidney and bladder cells. The regular ingestion of mate tea increased the resistance of DNA to H(2)O(2)-induced DNA strand breaks and improved the DNA repair after H(2)O(2) challenge in liver cells, irrespective of the dose ingested. These results suggest that mate tea could protect against DNA damage and enhance the DNA repair activity. Protection may be afforded by the antioxidant activity of the mate tea's bioactive compounds.