© 2014 IBRO. Tanshinone IIA (TSA) is a lipid soluble agent derived from the root of Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen). This plant is a traditional Chinese herb, which has been used widely in China especially for enhancing circulation. However mechanisms underlying its efficacy remain poorly understood. The present study was designed to illuminate events that may underlie the apparently neuroprotective effects of TSA following ischemic insult. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to transient focal cerebral ischemia by use of a middle cerebral artery occlusion model. They were then randomly divided into a sham-operated control group, and cerebral ischemia/reperfusion groups receiving a two-hour occlusion. Further subsets of groups received the same durations of occlusion or were sham-operated but then received daily i.p. injections of high or low doses of TSA, for seven or 15. days. Hematoxylin and eosin staining revealed lesions in the entorhinal cortex of both rats subject to ischemia and to a lesser extent to those receiving TSA after surgery. Levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), caspase-3 and caspase-8, were quantified by both immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. TSA treatment after middle cerebral artery occlusion, markedly reduced infarct size, and reduced the expression of caspase-3 and caspase-8. These changes were considered protective and were generally proportional to the dose of TSA used. These results suggest that TSA may effect neuroprotection by way of reduction of the extent of cell inflammation and death within affected regions.