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Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α) is a proinflammatory cytokine implicated in neuronal damage in response to cerebral ischemia. Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) provides neuroprotection against a subsequent severer or longer transient ischemia by ischemic tolerance. Here, we focused on the role of TNF-α in IPC-mediated neuroprotection against neuronal death following a subsequent longer transient cerebral ischemia (TCI). Gerbils used in this study were randomly assigned to eight groups; sham group, TCI operated group, IPC plus (+) sham group, IPC + TCI operated group, sham + etanercept (an inhibitor of TNF-a) group, TCI + etanercept group, IPC + sham + etanercept group, and IPC + TCI + etanercept group. IPC was induced by a 2-min sublethal transient ischemia, which was operated 1 day prior to a longer (5-min) TCI. A significant death of neurons was found in the stratum pyramidale (SP) in the CA1 area (CA1) of the hippocampus 5 days after TCI; however, IPC protected SP neurons from TCI. We found that TNF-α immunoreactivity was significantly increased in CA1 pyramidal neurons in the TCI and IPC + TCI groups compared to the sham group. TNF-R1 expression in CA1 pyramidal neurons of the TCI group was also increased 1 and 2 days after TCI; however, in the IPC + TCI group, TNF-R1 expression was significantly lower than that in the TCI group. On the other hand, we did not detect TNF-R2 immunoreactivity in CA1 pyramidal neurons 1 and 2 days after TCI; meanwhile, in the IPC + TCI group, TNF-R2 expression was significantly increased compared to TNF-R2 expression at 1 and 2 days after TCI. In addition, in this group, TNF-R2 was newly expressed in pericytes, which are important cells in the blood brain barrier, from 1 day after TCI. When we treated etanercept to the IPC + TCI group, IPC-induced neuroprotection was significantly weakened. In brief, this study indicates that IPC confers neuroprotection against TCI by TNF-α signaling through TNF-R2 and suggests that the enhancement of TNF-R2 expression by IPC may be a legitimate strategy for a therapeutic intervention of TCI.Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) protects CA1 pyramidal neurons from ischemic damage.IPC attenuates TNF-α and TNF-R1 expressions in ischemic CA1 pyramidal neurons.IPC increases TNF-R2 expressions in pericytes in CA1 area after ischemic insult.IPC-mediated neuroprotective effect is reversed by etanercept (an inhibitor of TNF-a) treatment.