Background: The present study aimed at investigating the effect of a novel antioxidant, hydrogen (H2) gas, on the severity of contrast-induced acute kidney injury (CIAKI) in a rat model. Methods: CIAKI was induced in rats by intravenous injection of a contrast medium, Ioversol, in addition to reagents inhibiting prostaglandin and nitric oxide synthesis. During the injection of these reagents, the rats inhaled H2 gas or control gas. Results: One day after the injection, serum levels of urea nitrogen were significantly lower in H2 gas-inhaling CIAKI rats (17.6 ± 2.3 mg/dl) than those in control gas-treated CIAKI rats (36.0 ± 7.3 mg/dl), although they both were elevated as compared to untreated rats (14.9 ± 0.9 mg/dl). Consistently, creatinine clearance in H2 gas-treated CIAKI rats was higher than that in control gas-treated counterparts. Renal histological analysis revealed that the formation of proteinaceous casts and tubular necrosis was improved by H2 gas inhalation. Mechanistic analyses showed that inhalation of H2 gas significantly reduced renal cell apoptosis, expression of cleaved caspase 3, and expression of an oxidative stress marker, 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, in injured kidneys. Conclusion: Results suggest that H2 gas inhalation is effective in ameliorating the severity of CIAKI in rats by reducing renal cell apoptosis and oxidative stress. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.