Background: The aim of this study was to determine the acute effects of antioxidant caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) on nitric oxide (NO) production, neutrophil infiltration, and antioxidant enzyme activities on an in vivo model of renal ischemia-reperfusion injury. Methods: Rats were divided into five equal groups each consisting six rats: sham operation, ischemia, ischemia-reperfusion (I/R), I/R plus CAPE, and I/R plus vitamin E groups. CAPE or vitamin E was administered intraperitoneally before reperfusion. After experimental procedure, rats were sacrificed and both ipsilateral and contralateral kidneys were removed and prepared for NO concentrations, myeloperoxidase (MPO), catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities. Results: Acute administration of vitamin E decreased NO concentrations in both ipsilateral and contralateral renal tissues compared to I/R group. SOD activity was increased in I/R and I/R + CAPE groups compared to sham operation group. The most prominent results were encountered in MPO activities, which did not change in contralateral kidneys in both ischemia and I/R groups. There was a significant decrease in ipsilateral MPO activity in ischemia group and a significant increase in I/R group compared to sham operation group. Pretreatment with intraperitoneal CAPE significantly diminished the tissue MPO activity indicating the prevention of the neutrophil sequestration into the kidney. Conclusion: There is a role for CAPE in attenuation in renal damage after I/R injury of the kidney, in part at least by inhibition of neutrophil sequestration. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.