The present study was designed to determine the protective activity of cinnamic acid against induction by X-rays of genomic instability in normal human blood lymphocytes. This radio-protective activity was assessed by use of the cytokinesis-block micronucleus test and the alkaline comet assay, with human blood lymphocytes isolated from two healthy donors. A Siemens Mevatron MD2 (Siemens AG, USA, 1994) linear accelerator was used for the irradiation with 1 or 2 Gy. Treatment of the lymphocytes with cinnamic acid prior to irradiation reduced the number of micronuclei when compared with that in control samples. Treatment with cinnamic acid without irradiation did not increase the number of micronuclei and did not show a cytostatic effect in the lymphocytes. The results of the alkaline comet assay revealed that cinnamic acid reduces the DNA damage induced by X-rays, showing a significant radio-protective effect. Cinnamic acid decreased the frequency of irradiation-induced micronuclei by 16-55% and reduced DNA breakage by 17-50%, as determined by the alkaline comet assay. Cinnamic acid may thus act as a radio-protective compound, and future studies may focus on elucidating the mechanism by which cinnamic acid offers radioprotection. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.