Reactive oxygen species play a role in the response of brain to ischemia. The effects of metalloporphyrin catalytic antioxidants (AEOL 10113 and AEOL 10150) were examined after murine middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Ninety minutes after reperfusion from 90 min MCAO in the rat, AEOL 10113, AEOL 10150, or vehicle were given intracerebroventricularly. AEOL 10113 and AEOL 10150 similarly reduced infarct size (35%) and neurologic deficit. AEOL 10113 caused behavioral side effects at twice the neuroprotective dose while AEOL 10150 required a 15-fold increase from the neuroprotective dose to cause behavioral changes. AEOL 10150, given 6 h after 90 min MCAO, reduced total infarct size by 43% without temperature effects. Brain AEOL 10150 elimination t(1/2) was 10 h. In the mouse, intravenous AEOL 10150 infusion post-MCAO reduced both infarct size (25%) and neurologic deficit. Brain AEOL 10150 uptake, greater in the ischemic hemisphere, was dose- and time-dependent. AEOL 10150 had direct effects on proteomic events and ameliorated changes caused by ischemia. In primary mixed neuronal/glial cultures exposed to 2 h of O(2)/glucose deprivation, AEOL 10150 reduced lactate dehydrogenase release dose-dependently and selectively preserved aconitase activity in concentrations consistent with neuroprotection in vivo. AEOL 10150 is an effective neuroprotective compound offering a wide therapeutic window with a large margin of safety against adverse behavioral side effects.