There is currently substantial clinical interest in growth hormone (GH) as a protective agent against radiation-related normal tissue injury. To further assess the potential radiation injury-preventive effects of GH, these effects were studied in rats by using a radiation-induced skin injury model. Group 1 received neither GH nor irradiation (control group). Group 2 received 30 Gy of gamma irradiation as a single dose to the right hind legs of the rats (radiation group). Group 3 and 4 received the same irradiation plus either 0.01 U/kg/day GH (RT + 0.01 GH group) or 0.02 U/kg/day GH (RT + 0.02 GH group) subcutaneously. Clinically and histopathologically, acute skin reactions were assessed by two independent experts in radiation oncology and pathology, respectively. Irradiation increased dermatitis in rats when compared with the control group. The severity of radiodermatitis in the rats in the RT + 0.01 GH and RT + 0.02 GH groups was significantly lower than that in the RT group; radiodermatitis developed earlier in the RT group than in the other groups. GH was efficacious in preventing epidermal atrophy, dermal degeneration such as oedema and collagen fibre loss, and hair follicle atrophy, but not better than in the control group. These results are preliminary to studies that will be performed with higher doses of GH in radiation-treated cancer patients, with the aim of reducing radiation-induced toxicity.