AIM The reperfusion following liver ischemia results in the damage and apoptosis of hepatocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible effects and mechanism of a new synthesized glutathione peroxidase (GPX) mimic, 2-selenium-bridged beta-cyclodextrin (2-SeCD), on rat liver ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. METHODS Male Wistar rats (n = 32) were randomly divided into four groups: I. sham-operated group, II. I/R group, III. I/R +2-SeCD group, IV. I/R + Ebselen group. Hepatic I/R was administered by 90 min of ischemia and 12 h of reperfusion. Liver tissues were collected at the end of reperfusion period for measurement of various biochemical parameters. RESULTS The serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity and tissue malondialdehyde, myeloperoxidase levels were increased in I/R group, while the increase was significantly reduced by 2-SeCD treatment. The glutathione level, depressed by I/R, was elevated back to normal levels by treatment with 2-SeCD. Severe hepatic damage were observed by light and transmission electron microscopy whilst pretreatment with 2-SeCD resulted in tissue and cellular preservation. Furthermore, 2-SeCD reduced cytochrome c release from mitochondria and subsequent DNA fragmentation by regulating Bcl-2/Bax expression ratio. RESULTS suggested that 2-SeCD was more effective than ebselen in the reversal of the alteration in tissue structural and biochemical parameters caused by I/R injury. CONCLUSION 2-selenium-bridged beta-cyclodextrin playes an important role in the protection of liver against I/R injury and this treatment may be a novel pharmacological agent for liver surgery.