Oregano essential oil (OEO) has long been used to improve the health of animals, particularly their intestinal health. The health benefits of OEO are generally attributed to antioxidative actions, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we investigate the antioxidative effects of OEO and their underlying molecular mechanisms in porcine small intestinal epithelial (IPEC-J2) cells. We found that OEO treatment prior to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) exposure increased cell viability and prevented lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release into the medium. H2O2-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and malondialdehyde (MDA) were remarkably suppressed by OEO. OEO dose-dependently increased mRNA and protein levels of the nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) target genes Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) and g-glutamylcysteine ligase (GCLC, GLCM), as well as intracellular concentrations of SOD1 and glutathione. OEO also increased intranuclear expression of Nrf2 and the activity of an antioxidant response element reporter plasmid in IPEC-J2 cells. The OEO-induced expression of Nrf2-regulated genes and increased SOD1 and glutathione concentrations in IPEC-J2 cells were reduced by Nrf2 small interfering (si) RNAs, counteracting the protective effects of OEO against oxidative stress in IPEC-J2 cells. Our results suggest that OEO protects against H2O2-induced IPEC-J2 cell damage by inducing Nrf2 and related antioxidant enzymes.