This study was designed to investigate the role of HO-1 induction in prevention of thioacetamide (TAA)-induced oxidative stress, inflammation and liver damage. The changes in hepatic dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH) activity as well as plasma arginine and asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) levels were also measured to evaluate nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability. Rats were divided into four groups as control, hemin, TAA and hemin+TAA groups. Hemin (50mgkg1, i.p.) was injected to rats 18h before TAA treatment to induce HO-1 enzyme expression. Rats were given TAA (300mgkg1, i.p.) and killed 24h after treatment. Although TAA treatment produced severe hepatic injury, upregulation of HO-1 ameliorated TAA-induced liver damage up to some extent as evidence by decreased serum alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase and arginase activities and histopathological findings. Induction of HO-1 stimulated antioxidant system and decreased lipid peroxidation in TAA-treated rats. Myeloperoxidase activity and inducible NO synthase protein expression were decreased, whereas DDAH activity was increased by hemin injection in TAA-treated rats. Induction of HO-1 was associated with increased arginine levels and decreased ADMA levels, being the main determinants of NO production, in plasma of TAA-treated rats. In conclusion, our results indicate that HO-1 induction alleviated increased oxidative stress and inflammatory reactions together with deterioration in NO production in TAA-induced liver damage in rats. Copyright (c) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.