Abstract: An important aspect of the function of melatonin seems to be the mediation of stress caused by environmental and chemical factors. In the cryopreservation process, environmental changes including osmotic injury, desiccation, and low temperature can impose a series of stresses on plants. In this study, we evaluated the role of melatonin in stress protection during the process of cryopreservation using callus of an endangered plant species Rhodiola crenulata. The survival rate of the cryopreserved callus significantly increased when the callus was pretreated for 5 days with 0.1 μm melatonin prior to freezing in liquid nitrogen. Analysis of antioxidative activity following the pretreatment of callus with 0.1 μm melatonin showed a significant reduction in malondialdehyde production during various steps of cryopreservation. Enhanced peroxidase and catalase activity was observed in the callus after pretreatment with 0.1 μm melatonin compared to the control. These observations provide new evidence of the antioxidant/anti-stress function of melatonin, and it is the first report of its potential application in the preservation of elite endangered germplasm through the process of cryopreservation.