Selenium is shown to have beneficial effects on ischaemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. Our aim was to assess the effects of selenium on IR-induced testicular damage in terms of biochemical and histopathological evaluation. A total of 32 rats were randomised into four groups: control, IR, IR + selenium (IR + S) and S. Detorsion was applied after 3 h of torsion. Testicular tissue superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and DNA fragmentation levels were determined. Testicular tissue samples were examined by histopathological examination and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end-labelling staining. The control, IR and IR + S groups had higher SOD values compared with the S group; SOD levels of the control and IR + S groups were higher than those of the IR group (P < 0.05). Further, MDA levels of the IR group were higher than those in the other three groups (P < 0.05). The IR group revealed lower TAC levels than the three groups (P < 0.05 for all). GSH levels of the IR group were significantly lower than those in the other three groups (P < 0.05 for all). In contrast, GSH levels of the IR + S group increased compared with those of the S group. The IR group had more DNA fragmentation than the control and S groups (P < 0.05). It is concluded that selenium possibly reduces oxidative stress and apoptosis caused by testicular IR injury in rats. The testicular protective effect of selenium appears to be mediated through its anti-apoptotic and antioxidative effects. However, selenium does not affect DNA fragmentation.