Background. Renal injury induced by aortic ischemia-reperfusion (IR) is an important factor in the development of postoperative acute renal failure following abdominal aortic surgery. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of erythropoietin on renal injury induced by aortic IR in rats. Material and methods. Twenty-four Wistar-Albino rats were randomized into 3 groups (8 per group). The control group underwent laparotomy and dissection of the infrarenal abdominal aorta without occlusion. The aortic IR group underwent clamping of the infrarenal abdominal aorta for 30 min followed by 60 min of reperfusion. The aortic IR + erythropoietin group underwent the same aortic IR periods and was pretreated with 1000 U/kg subcutaneous erythropoietin 5 min before ischemia. In rat kidney specimens, tissue levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase were measured. Histological evaluation of the rat kidney tissues was also done. Results. Aortic IR significantly increased the levels of MDA and superoxide dismutase (P < 0.05 versus control). Erythropoietin significantly decreased the levels of MDA, superoxide dismutase, and catalase (P < 0.05 versus aortic IR). Histological evaluation showed that aortic IR significantly increased (P < 0.05 versus control), whereas erythropoietin significantly decreased (P < 0.05 versus aortic IR) the focal glomerular necrosis, dilation of Bowman's capsule, degeneration of tubular epithelium, necrosis in tubular epithelium, interstitial inflammatory infiltration, and congestion of blood vessels. Conclusions. The results indicate that erythropoietin has protective effects on renal injury induced by aortic IR in rats. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.