A large body of experimental evidence supports a role for oxidative stress as a mediator of nerve cell death in Parkinson's disease (PD). Phytoestrogens such as genistein have been reported to prevent neuronal degeneration caused by increased oxidative burden, therefore, this study examined whether genistein administration at a high dose would attenuate behavioral and structural abnormalities in an experimental model of PD in rat. For this purpose, unilateral intrastriatal 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA, 12.5 µg/5 µL of saline-ascorbate)-lesioned rats were intraperitoneally pretreated with a single and high dose of genistein (10 mg/kg) 1 h before surgery. Apomorphine-induced rotations and the number of Nissl-stained neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNC) were counted after 2 weeks. Genistein administration could attenuate the rotational behavior in lesioned rats and protect the neurons of SNC against 6-OHDA toxicity. Genistein administration has a protective effect against 6-OHDA toxicity. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.