1. The neuroprotective effect of cactus polysaccharide (CP) on oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD) and reoxygenation (REO)-induced damage in the cortical and hippocampal slices of rat brain was investigated. 2. Cell viability was evaluated by using the 2, 3, 5-triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) method. The fluorescence of propidium iodide (PI) staining was used for quantification of cellular survival, and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity in incubation medium was assessed by LDH assay to evaluate the degree of injury. 3. The OGD ischemic condition significantly decreased cellular viability and increased LDH release in the incubation medium. CP (0.2 mg/l∼2 mg/l) protected brain slices from OGD injury in a dosage dependent manner as demonstrated by increased A 490 value of TTC, decreased PI intensity and LDH release. At the above concentration, CP also prevented the increase of nitric oxide (NO) content and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) activity induced by OGD. 4. CP can protect the brain slices (cortical and hippocampus) against injury induced by OGD. Its neuroprotective effect may be partly mediated by the NO/iNOS system induced by OGD insult.