Testicular torsion is a urological emergency referred to as acute scrotum', because inappropriate treatment can lead to male subfertility and infertility. A possible cause of testicular damage is the ischaemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury attributed to oxygen free radicals. L-carnitine, a vitamin-like antioxidant, plays a pivotal role in the maturation of spermatozoa within the reproductive tract. The aim of the present paper was to determine the protective effect Of L-carnitine on testicular I/R-induced injury. Thirty-two male rats were divided into 4 groups (n = 8). Testicular torsion was created by rotating the right testis 720 degrees in a clockwise direction. Group 1: sham-operated control; group 2: ischaemia; group 3: I/R; group 4: ischaemia-L-camitine treatment-reperfusion group. L-carnitine (500mg kg(-1), intraperitoneally) was administered before 30 min of detorsion in Group 4. After torsion (5 h) and detorsion (5 h), bilateral orchidectomy was performed. The malondialdehyde (MDA) level was evaluated in testes. Histopathologically, Johnsen's spermatogenesis criteria and mean seminiferous tubule diameter (MSTD) measurements were used. Testicular MDA levels were higher in the torsion group compared to the sham-control group (p < 0.05). Detorsion (reperfusion) caused a further increase in MDA levels (p < 0.05). Pretreatment with L-camitine prevented a further increase in MDA levels (p < 0.05). Histologically, torsion caused some separation among germinal cells in the seminiferous tubules, which became much more prominent in the I/R group but was attenuated with L-carnitine pretreatment. In conclusion, L-carnitine pretreatment may have a protective effect in experimental testicular torsiondetorsion model in rats by its well-known antioxidant potential. Copyright (C) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.