We recently improved an in vitro ischemic model, using PC12 neuronal cultures exposed to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) for 3 hr in a special device, followed by 18 hr of reoxygenation. The cell death induced in this ischemic model was evaluated by a series of markers: lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release, caspase-3 activation, presence of cyclin D1, cytochrome c leakage from the mitochondria, BAX cellular redistribution, cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) to an 85-kDa apoptotic fragment, and DNA fragmentation. The OGD insult, in the absence of reoxygenation, caused a strong activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) isoforms extracellular regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), and stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK), also known as p-38. The detection of apoptotic markers and activation of MAPKs during the ischemic insult strongly suggest that apoptosis plays an important role in the PC12 cell death. Homocarnosine, a neuroprotective histidine dipeptide, present in high concentrations in the brain, was found to provide neuroprotection, as expressed by a 40% reduction in LDH release and caspase-3 activity at 1 mM. Homocarnosine reduced OGD activation of ERK 1, ERK 2, JNK 1, and JNK 2 by 40%, 46%, 55%, and 30%, respectively. These results suggest that apoptosis is an important characteristic of OGD-induced neuronal death and that antioxidants, such as homocarnosine, may prevent OGD-induced neuronal death by inhibiting the apoptotic process and/or in relation to the differential attenuation of activity of MAPKs.