Melatonin, the chief secretory product of the pineal gland, is a potent and efficient endogenous radical scavenger. Thus, melatonin was shown to protect different biomolecules, such as DNA, membrane lipids, and cytosolic proteins, from oxidative damage induced by oxygen-derived free radicals. In order to study the protective role of melatonin in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced DNA damage, U-937 cells were treated with different concentrations of H2O2, either in the presence or absence of melatonin, and DNA damage was assessed using the cytokinesis-block micronucleus technique. Melatonin diminished H2O2-induced micronuclei production both in short and long treatments. Additionally, melatonin concentrations higher than 1 microM were capable of protecting cells from spontaneous micronuclei production. These data suggest that melatonin, an endogenous antioxidant and nontoxic compound, may have an important role in protecting cells from genetic damage due to free radicals, supporting the idea of this hormone as a possible therapeutic agent in preventing aging and age-related diseases.