Stroke remains a worldwide health problem. Salvianolate exerts a protective effect in various microcirculatory disturbance-related diseases, but studies of the mechanisms underlying its protective action have mainly focused on the myocardium, whereas little research has been carried out in brain tissue following ischemia-reperfusion. We assessed the neuroprotective effects of salvianolate in a rat model of cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury induced using the suture method. At onset and 24 and 48 hours after reperfusion, rats were intraperitoneally injected with salvianolate (18 mg/kg) or saline. Neurological deficit scores at 72 hours showed that the neurological functions of rats that had received salvianolate were significantly better than those of the rats that had received saline. 2,3,5-Triphenyltetrazolium chloride was used to stain cerebral tissue to determine the extent of the infarct area. A significantly smaller infarct area and a significantly lower number of apoptotic cells were observed after treatment with salvianolate compared with the saline treatment. Expression of heat shock protein 22 and phosphorylated protein kinase B in ischemic brain tissue was significantly greater in rats treated with salvianolate compared with rats treated with saline. Our findings suggest that salvianolate provides neuroprotective effects against cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury by upregulating heat shock protein 22 and phosphorylated protein kinase B expression.