In vivo preventive effects of a Mangifera indica L extract (Vimang) or its major component mangiferin on iron overload injury have been studied in rats given respectively, 50, 100, 250 mg kg(-1) body weight of Vimang, or 40 mg kg(-1) body weight of mangiferin, for 7 days prior to, and for 7 days following the administration of toxic amounts of iron-dextran. Both Vimang or mangiferin treatment prevented iron overload in serum as well as liver oxidative stress, decreased serum and liver lipid peroxidation, serum GPx activity, and increased serum and liver GSH, serum SOD and the animals overall antioxidant condition. Serum iron concentration was decreased although at higher doses, Vimang tended to increase it; percent tranferrin saturation, liver weight/body mass ratios, liver iron content was decreased. Treatment increased serum iron-binding capacity and decreased serum levels of aspartate-amine transferase (ASAT) and alanine-amine transferase (ALAT), as well as the number of abnormal Kupffer cells in iron-loaded livers. It is suggested that besides acting as antioxidants, Vimang extract or its mangiferin component decrease liver iron by increasing its excretion. Complementing earlier in vitro results from our group, it appears possible to support the hypothesis that Vimang and mangiferin present therapeutically useful effects in iron overload related diseases. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.