This study aims to investigate whether preoperative L-carnitine supplementation affects the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is an inflammatory marker that has proven usefulness for predicting postoperative complications in coronary artery bypass surgery. A lot of studies concerning the role of L-carnitine in the immune system have been performed, contradictory results have been reported on its effects on absolute numbers of WBC subtypes. This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study was conducted among patients scheduled for coronary artery bypass grafting surgery between June 2012 and December 2013 in our cardiovascular surgery clinic. A total of 60 consecutive patients were randomized and divided into 2 groups. The first group received 2 g of L-carnitine in 1000 mL of 0.9% saline solution infused over 24 hours for each of the 3 preoperative days (L-carnitine group, n - 30), or only 1000 mL of 0.9% saline solution for the same time period (placebo group, n = 30). The basal values of leukocyte, neutrophil, lymphocyte counts, and neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio were similar in the 2 groups. After L-carnitine supplementation (just before surgery), leukocyte and neutrophil counts of the L-carnitine group were significantly lower than those of the placebo group (7.7 +/- 1.5 versus 9.7 +/- 2.6, P < 0.001 and 4.6 +/- 1.3 versus 6.5 +/- 2.2, P < 0.001). On postoperative day 1, lymphocyte counts were significantly higher in the L-carnitine group (1.1 +/- 0.6 versus 0.8 +/- 0.9, P < 0.001). Moreover, the increase in NLR was significantly lower in the L-carnitine group at postoperative day 1 (20.7 +/- 13.8 versus 10.8 +/- 4.1, P < 0.001). Preoperative L-carnitine supplementation may reduce neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio during the early postoperative period of coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.