This study was designed to determine the possible protective effect of Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb) against oxidative organ damage distant from the original burn wound. Under brief ether anesthesia, the shaved dorsum of the rats was exposed to 90 degrees C (burn group) or 25 degrees C (control group) water bath for 10 seconds. EGb (50 mg/kg/day) or saline was administered intraperitoneally immediately and at 12 hours after the burn injury. Rats were decapitated 24 hours after burn injury and tissue samples from the liver and kidney were taken for the determination of malondialdehyde (MDA) and glutathione (GSH) levels, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and collagen contents. Formation of reactive oxygen species in the tissue samples was monitored by the chemiluminescence technique. Tissues also were examined microscopically. Blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase levels and tumor necrosis factor- and lactate dehydrogenase activity were assayed in serum samples. Severe skin scald injury (30% TBSA) caused a significant decrease in GSH levels and significant increases in MDA levels, MPO activity, and collagen content of hepatic and renal tissues. Treatment of rats with EGb significantly increased the GSH level and decreased the MDA level, MPO activity, and collagen contents. Similarly, serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and blood urea nitrogen levels, as well as lactate dehydrogenase and tumor necrosis factor-, were increased in the burn group as compared with the control group. However, treatment with EGb reversed all these biochemical indices, as well as histopathological alterations that were induced by thermal trauma. Our results show that thermal trauma-induced oxidative damage in hepatic and renal tissues is protected by the administration of EGb, with its antioxidant effects. Therefore, its therapeutic role as a "tissue injury-limiting agent" must be further elucidated in oxidant-induced tissue damage.