Intrahippocamal injections of kainic acid (KA) significantly increase the expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) in the ipsilateral hippocampus at 2–4 h and 21–45 days post-administration, suggesting the possible involvement of these chemokines in both neurodegenerative and regenerative processes. To examine the possible role of these chemokines on neuronal cell death, hippocampal neurons were incubated with either MCP-1 or MIP-2 in vitro and examined to assess the effects on neuronal cell viability. These treatments resulted in significant neuronal apoptosis that could be abrogated by prior treatment with the caspase-1 inhibitor, Z-VAD-FMK, the caspase-3 inhibitor, Z-DEVD-FMK, the Gαi inhibitor, pertussis toxin, or the MAO-B inhibitor, (−)deprenyl. Furthermore, this chemokine apoptotic effect could also be observed in vivo as intrahippocampal injections of MCP-1 or MIP-2 resulted in the apoptosis of hippocampal neurons, thus supporting a direct role of these chemokines in neuronal death. In contrast, immunohistological analysis of kainic acid lesions on days 21–45 revealed significant expression of MCP-1 and MIP-2 associated with reactive astrocytes and macrophages, respectively, with no apoptotic populations being observed. These results suggested that these chemokines might also mediate distinct biological effects on local microenvironmental cell populations at various stages post truama and during cellular repair. To address this possibility, astrocyte were cultured in the presence or absence of these chemokines and examined by microarray analysis for effects on astrocytes gene expression. A number of genes encoding proteins associated with inflammation, cellular signaling, differentiation, and repair were directly modulated by chemokine treatment. More specifically, the RNA and protein expression of the neurotrophic factor, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), was found to be significantly increased upon culture with MCP-1 and MIP-2. Conditioned media derived from chemokine-stimulated astrocytes also facilitated bFGF-dependent neuronal cell differentiation and promoted survival of H19-7 neurons in vitro, suggesting a possible role for chemokine-activated astrocytes as a source of trophic support. Taken together, these data support possible autocrine and paracrine roles for MCP-1 and MIP-2 in both the “death and life” of hippocampal neurons following CNS injury.