Astaxanthin (ATX) is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in a wide variety of living organisms. Previous studies have shown that ATX has effects of eliminating oxygen free radicals and can protect organs from ischemia/reperfusion (IR) induced injury. The present study was designed to further investigate the protective effects of ATX on oxidative stress induced toxicity in tubular epithelial cells and on IR induced renal injury in mice. ATX, at a concentration of 250 nM, attenuated 100 μM H2O2-inudced viability decrease of tubular epithelial cells. In vivo, ATX preserved renal function 12 h or 24 h post IR. Pretreatment of ATX via oral gavage for 14 consecutive days prior to IR dramatically prevented IR induced histological damage 24 h post IR. Histological results showed that the pathohistological score, number of apoptotic cells, and the expression of α-smooth muscle actin were significantly decreased by pretreatment of ATX. In addition, oxidative stress and inflammation in kidney samples were significantly reduced by ATX 24 h post IR. Taken together, the current study suggests that pretreatment of ATX is effective in preserving renal function and histology via antioxidant activity.