Apoptosis plays an important role in delayed neuronal cell death after cerebral ischemia. Activation of Akt/protein kinase B has been recently reported to prevent apoptosis in several cell types. In this article the authors examine whether induction of ischemic tolerance resulting from a sublethal ischemic insult requires Akt activation. Sublethal ischemia gradually and persistently stimulated phosphorylation of Akt-Ser-473 in the hippocampal CA1 region after reperfusion. After lethal ischemia, phosphorylation of Akt-Ser-473 showed no obvious decrease in preconditioned gerbils but a marked decrease in nonconditioned gerbils. Changes in Akt-Ser-473 phosphorylation were correlated with changes in Akt activities, as measured by an in vitro kinase assay. Intracerebral ventricular infusion of wortmannin before preconditioning blocked both the increase in Akt-Ser-473 phosphorylation in a dose-dependent manner and the neuroprotective action of preconditioning. These results suggest that Akt activation is induced by a sublethal ischemic insult in gerbil hippocampus and contributes to neuroprotective ischemic tolerance in CA1 pyramidal neurons.