In an earlier communication we reported that Nigella sativa suppresses potassium bromate-induced renal oxidative damage. In the present study, we report the chemopreventive effect of Nigella sativa against ferric nitrilotriacetate (Fe-NTA)-induced renal oxidative stress, hyperproliferative response and renal carcinogenesis. Fe-NTA (9 mg Fe/kg body weight, intraperitoneally) enhances renal lipid peroxidation, xanthine oxidase, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) generation with reduction in renal glutathione content, antioxidant enzymes and phase II metabolizing enzymes. It also caused increase in blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and thymidine [3H] incorporation into renal DNA. It also enhanced DEN (N-diethylnitrosamine)-initiated renal carcinogenesis by increasing the percentage incidence of tumours. Treatment of rats orally with Nigella sativa (50 and 100 mg/kg body weight) resulted in significant decrease in γ-glutamyl transpeptidase, lipid peroxidation, xanthine oxidase, H2O2 generation, blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, renal ODC activity, DNA synthesis (P<0.001) and incidence of tumours. Renal glutathione content (P<0.01), glutathione-metabolizing enzymes (P<0.001) and antioxidant enzymes were also recovered to significant levels (P<0.001). Thus, our data suggest that Nigella sativa is a potent chemopreventive agent and suppresses Fe-NTA-induced oxidative stress, hyperproliferative response and renal carcinogenesis in Wistar rats.