Levetiracetam (LEV), a second-generation anti-epileptic drug, is used for treatment of both focal and generalized epilepsy. Growing body of evidence suggests that LEV may have neuroprotective effects. The present study was undertaken to investigate the neuroprotective effects of LEV on rotenone-induced Parkinson's disease (PD) in rats. Twenty-four adult Sprague-Dawley rats were infused with rotenone (3 mu g/mu l in DMSO) or vehicle (1 mu l DMSO) into the left substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) under stereotaxic surgery. PD model was assessed by rotational test ten days after drug infusion. The valid PD rats were randomly distributed into two groups; Group 1 (n =8) and Group 2 (n=8) were administered saline (1 ml/kg/day, i.p.) and LEV (600 mg/kg/day, i.p.) through 21 days, respectively. The effects of LEV treatment were evaluated by behavioral (rotation score), biochemical (brain homovalinic acid level and oxidant/antioxidant status) and immunohistochemical (tyrosine hydroxylase) parameters. Apomorphine-induced rotations in PD rats were significantly suppressed by LEV treatment. While unilateral rotenone lesion induced a dramatic loss of dopaminergic neurons both in the striatum and SNc, LEV treatment significantly attenuated the degenerative changes in dopaminergic neurons. Furthermore, LEV significantly decreased lipid peroxide levels, a marker of lipid peroxidation, and induced glutathione levels, catalase and superoxide dismutase activity in PD rats compared with saline group. We conclude that LEV may have beneficial effects on dopaminergic neurons against rotenone-induced injury. The underlying mechanism may be associated with the attenuation of oxidative stress. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.