Periodontal disease is the chronic infectious disease of the periodontium. Because of irreversibility, prevention of disease is one of the most important goals of periodontal treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of luteolin, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, on the prevention of experimental periodontitis by determining morphological and histological tissue alterations. This study consisted of 28 rats and four experimental groups: healthy control group (C, n = 6); periodontitis group (P, n = 6); periodontitis and 50 mg/kg luteolin administered group (L-50, n = 8); and periodontitis and 100 mg/kg luteolin administered group (L-100, n = 8). Experimental periodontitis was induced via ligature method around lower right first molar teeth. All rats were euthanized 11 days after. The severity of periodontal destruction was determined by measuring alveolar bone loss under a stereomicroscope. Osteoblast and inflammatory cell counts were counted on hematoxylin-eosin-stained slides and osteoclasts were counted on tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-stained slides. The levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-8, tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP)-1, receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), and osteoprotegerin (OPG) were determined by immunohistochemistry. The highest alveolar bone loss was observed in the periodontitis group and the luteolin administration decreased bone loss in both groups. Osteoblast cell number was higher and osteoclast and inflammatory cell numbers were lower in the P group compared to C, L-50, and L-100 groups. Luteolin, dose-dependently increased osteoblast cell counts. Luteolin attenuated periodontal inflammation in both L-50 and L-100 groups. Like osteoblast cell numbers, BMP-2 expressions were also elevated in luteolin groups. Both doses of luteolin significantly increased TIMP-1 and BMP-2 expressions and decreased MMP-8 levels. iNOS expressions increased in P group and L-100 significantly decreased iNOS levels. RANKL increased and OPG decreased in P group and 100 mg/kg luteolin increased OPG and decreased RANKL levels significantly. Within the limits of present experimental study, luteolin successfully improved periodontal health in a ligature-induced experimental periodontitis model in Wistar rats. The decrease in inflammation, osteoclastic and collagenase activity and increase in osteoblastic activity are possibly involved in this process. © 2019 American Academy of Periodontology.