Cerebral infarction causes permanent neuronal loss inducing severe morbidity and mortality. Because hypertension is the main risk factor for cerebral infarction and most patients with hypertension take daily antihypertensive drugs, the neuroprotective effects and mechanisms of anti-hypertensive drugs need to be investigated. Cilnidipine, a long-acting, second-generation 1,4-dihydropyridine inhibitor of both L- and N-type calcium channels, was reported to reduce oxidative stress. In this study, we investigated whether cilnidipine has therapeutic effects in an animal model of cerebral infarction. After determination of the most effective dose of cilnidipine, a total of 128 rats were subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Neurobehavioral function test and brain MRI were performed, and rats with similar sized infarcts were randomized to either the cilnidipine group or the control group. Cilnidipine treatment was performed with reperfusion after 2-hr occlusion. Western blots and immunohistochemistry were also performed after 24-hr occlusion. Initial infarct volume on DWI was not different between the cilnidipine group and the control group; however, FLAIR MRI at 24 hr showed significantly reduced infarct volume in the cilnidipine group compared with the control group. Cilnidipine treatment significantly decreased the number of TUNEL-positive cells compared to the control group. Western blot and immunohistochemistry showed increased expression of phosphorylated Akt (Ser473), phosphorylated GSK-3β, and Bcl-2 and decreased expression of Bax and cleaved caspase-3. These results suggest that cilnidipine, which is used for the treatment of hypertension, has neuroprotective effects in the ischemic brain through activation of the PI3K pathway.