Numerous studies suggest that proteasome inhibition may play a causal role in mediating the increased levels of protein oxidation and neuron death observed in conditions associated with oxidative stress. In the present study we demonstrate that administration of non-toxic levels of oxidative stress does not result in impairment of 20S/26S proteasome activity, and actually increases the expression of specific proteasome subunits. Non-toxic levels of oxidative stress were observed to elevate the amount of protein oxidation in the presence of preserved proteasomal function, suggesting that proteasome inhibition may not mediate increases in protein oxidation following low-level oxidative stress. Preserving basal proteasome function appears to be critical to preventing the neurotoxicity of low-level oxidative stress, based on the ability of proteasome inhibitor treatment to exacerbate oxidative stress toxicity. Taken together, these data indicate that maintaining neural proteasome function may be critical to preventing neurotoxicity, but not the increase in protein oxidation, following low-level oxidative stress.