Recent studies have demonstrated that Notch-1 expression is increased in the hippocampus of Alzheimer's disease patients. We speculate that Notch-1 signaling may be involved in PC12 cell apoptosis induced by amyloid beta-peptide (25-35) (Aβ25-35). In the present study, PC12 cells were cultured with different doses (0, 0.1, 1.0, 10 and 100 nmol/L) of N-[N-(3,5-Difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester, a Notch-1 signaling pathway inhibitor, for 30 minutes. Then cultured cells were induced with Aβ25-35 for 48 hours. Pretreatment of PC12 cells with high doses of N-[N-(3,5-Difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (> 10 nmol/L) prolonged the survival of PC12 cells after Aβ25-35 induction, decreased the expression of apoptosis-related proteins caspase-3, -8, -9, increased the activity of oxidative stress-related superoxide dismutase and catalase, inhibited the production of active oxygen, and reduced nuclear factor kappa B expression. This study indicates that the Notch-1 signaling pathway plays a pivotal role in Aβ25-35-induced PC12 apoptosis.