Sodium ascorbate and histidine were employed to protect fibrinogen against modifications followed by a γ-irradiation process that could potentially inactivate the blood-borne viruses in plasma-derived products. Fibrinogen was irradiated (50 kGy total dose, on dry ice) using a 60Co source. Samples were analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and western blot. Carbonyl groups were measured by the 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine-coupled method, and the fibrinogen clotting activity was assessed by different functional assays. In irradiated fibrinogen, the carbonyl group concentration was elevated three-fold versus control; and moderate fragmentation of largely Aα and Bβ chains was revealed. The rate of thrombin-catalyzed fibrinogen polymerization was inhibited (average 50%) with normal fibrinopeptide release and with a minor decrease of total clottable fibrinogen and α-polymer formation. Ascorbate reduced the incorporation of carbonyls to the fibrinogen molecule (by > 50% at 50 mmol/l; P < 0.001). Contrary to ascorbate, which alone delayed the fibrinogen polymerization rate, histidine abolished irradiation-induced inhibition of fibrinogen polymerization (by 80% at 50 mmol/l; P < 0.001). In conclusion, even though ascorbate effectively protects fibrinogen from oxidation due to its adverse effects on fibrinogen function, it may not serve as a suitable radioprotective. On the contrary, the first definite evidence is provided that radiation-sterilized fibrinogen in the presence of histidine greatly retains its clotting capability.