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The alterations and involvement of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) activation were examined in the hippocampal CA1 region in a rat model of global brain ischemic tolerance. Western blotting study showed that ERK activation (diphosphorylation) level was decreased (3.75-, 0.56-, and 0.23-fold vs sham control) and JNK activation level was increased (3.82-, 4.63-, and 5.30-fold vs sham control) 3 days after more severe ischemic insults (6 min, 8 min, and 10 min of ischemia, respectively). These alterations were significantly prevented by pretreatment with preconditioning ischemia, which also provided neuronal protection against ischemic injury. Inhibition of ERK activation after preconditioning ischemia by PD98059, a specific ERK kinase inhibitor, significantly prevented the inhibitory effects of preconditioning ischemia on both JNK activation and ischemic injury. The results suggest that ERK activation after preconditioning ischemia may result in the prevention of JNK activation and thus be involved in the protective responses in ischemic tolerance in hippocampal CA1 region.