The protective effect of thymoquinone was investigated against cadmium-induced testicular toxicity in rats. Testicular toxicity was induced by a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of cadmium chloride (2 mg kg−1). Thymoquinone treatment (10 mg kg−1 day−1, i.p.) was applied for five consecutive days, starting 3 days before cadmium administration. Thymoquinone significantly attenuated the cadmium-induced decreases in serum testosterone, and testicular reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase activity and significantly decreased the elevations of testicular malondialdehyde, nitric oxide and cadmium ion levels resulted from cadmium chloride administration. Also, thymoquinone ameliorated the cadmium-induced testicular tissue injury observed by histopathological examination. In addition, thymoquinone significantly decreased the cadmium-induced expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, tumour necrosis factor-α, cyclooxygenase-2, nuclear factor-κB and caspase-3 in testicular tissue. It was concluded that thymoquinone, through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, may represent a potential candidate to protect the testes against the detrimental effect of cadmium exposure.