The aim of this experimental study was to investigate the possible role of adenosine deaminase (AD) and xanthine oxidase (XO) in the pathogenesis of cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and the effect of erdosteine in decreasing the toxicity. The intraperitoneal injection of cisplatin (7m kg(-1) body weight) induced a significant increase in plasma creatinine level and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and plasma and damaged renal tissue activities of AD and XO in rats. Co-treatment with erdosteine (10 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) attenuated the increase in the plasma creatinine and BUN levels, and significantly prevented the increase in tissue and plasma AD and XO activities (P < 0.05). The results of this study revealed that XO and AD may play an important role in the pathogenesis of cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. The potent free radical scavenger erdosteine may have protective potential in this process and it will become a promising drug in the prevention of this undesired side-effect of cisplatin. but further studies are needed to illuminate the exact protection mechanism of erdosteine against cisptatin-induced nephrotoxicity. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.