The protective effects of betaine in ethanol hepatotoxicity were investigated in 24 female wistar albino rats. Animals were divided into three groups: control, ethanol and ethanol + betaine group. Animals were fed liquid diets and consumed approximately 60 diet per day, Rats were fed ethanol 8 kg(-1) day(-1). The ethanol + betaine group were fed ethanol plus betaine (0.5% w/v). All animal were fed for 2 months. Reduced glutathione, malondialdehyde and vitamin A were determined in the liver tissue. Alanine aminotransferase activities were also measured on intracardiac blood samples. GSH levels in the ethanol group were significantly lower than these in the control group (p < 0.001). GSH was elevated in the betaine group as compared to the ethanol group (p < 0.001). MDA in the ethanol group was significantly higher than that in the control group (p < 0.05). MDA was decreased in the betaine group as compared to the ethanol group (p < 0.05). Vitamin A in the ethanol group was significantly lower than that in the control group (p < 0.01), but, in the ethanol + betaine group it was high compared with the ethanol group (p < 0.01). ALT in the ethanol group was higher than that in the control group (p < 0.05). Oxidative stress may play a major role in the ethanol-mediated hepatotoxicity. Betaine may protect liver against injury and it may prevent vitamin A depletion. Therefore, it may be a useful nutritional agent in the prevention of clinical problems dependent on ethanol-induced vitamin A depletion and peroxidative injury in liver. Copyright (C) 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.