The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of carotenoid astaxanthin (ASTA) on cultured primary rat hepatocytes treated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) on the cell viability (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide, MTT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity, 8-oxo-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and total oxidative stress (TOS) levels, and liver micronucleus rates. ASTA (2.5, 5, and 10 mu M) was added to cultures alone or simultaneously with TCDD (5 and 10 mu M) for 48h. The results of MTT and LDH assays showed that both doses of TCDD caused significant decrease in cell viability. Also, TCDD significantly increased TOS and decreased TAC level in rat hepatocytes. On the basis of increasing doses, the dioxin caused significant increase in micronucleated hepatocytes) and 8-OH-dG level as compared to control culture. The presence of ASTA with TCDD minimized its effects on primary hepatocytes cultures and DNA damages.