Cisplatin [cis-dichlorodiammineplatinum (II)] is a widely used chemotherapeutic drug that is toxic to the kidney. Concurrent administration of cysteine together with vitamin E, Crocus sativus and Nigella sativa reduced the toxicity of cisplatin in rats. When administered i.p. for 5 alternate days with 3 mg/kg cisplatin, cysteine (20 mg/kg) together with vitamin E (2 mg/rat) an extract of Crocus sativus stigmas (50 mg/kg) and Nigella sativa seed (50 mg/kg) significantly reduced blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum creatinine levels as well as cisplatin-induced serum total lipids increases. In contrast, the protective agents given together with cisplatin led to an even greater decrease in blood glucose than that seen with cisplatin alone. The serum activities of alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase of cisplatin-treated rats were significantly decreased, whereas the activities of glutathione reductase and isocitrate dehydrogenase were significantly increased. Addition of cysteine and vitamin E, Crocus sativus and Nigella sativa in combination with cisplatin partially prevented many changes in the activities of serum enzymes. In cisplatin-treated rats, the liver activities of isocitrate dehydrogenase and aspartate aminotransferase were significantly increased, whereas much greater changes were found in the kidneys, with increased activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and decreased activities of alkaline phosphatase, isocitrate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, sorbitol dehydrogenase and gamma-glutamyl transferase, as well as a decreased phosphorylation to oxidation ratio in the mitochondria, indicating reduced adenosine triphosphate production. Also, administration of cysteine and vitamin E, Crocus sativus and Nigella sativa together with cisplatin partially reversed many of the kidney enzymes changes induced by cisplatin. Cysteine together with vitamin E, Crocus sativus and Nigella sativa tended to protect from cisplatin-induced falls in leucocyte counts, haemoglobin levels and mean osmotic fragility of erythrocytes and also prevented the increase in haematocrit. The results of this study indicate a basis for the toxic effects of cisplatin, and suggest a possible way of counteracting the toxicity by introducing protective agents such sulphydryl compounds, other antioxidants and extracts of natural products. It also appears that cells adapt to the effects of cisplatin through the induction of systems that produce NADPH, which in turn compensates the decrease of free sulphydryl groups. We conclude that cysteine and vitamin E, Crocus sativus and Nigella Sativa may be a promising compound for reducing cisplatin-toxic side effects including nephrotoxicity.