Alcoholic infusions of Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham (PO, Olacaceae) are used in traditional medicine by patients presenting age associated symptoms and those recovering from stroke. The aim of this study is to evaluate the neuroprotective properties of PO ethanol extract (POEE) using hippocampal slices from Wistar rats exposed to oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD, followed by reoxygenation). Mitochondrial activity, an index of cell viability, was assessed by the MTT assay; in addition, the free radicals content was estimated by the use of dichlorofluorescein diacetate as probe. The OGD ischemic condition significantly impaired cellular viability, and increased free radicals generation. In non-OGD slices, incubation with POEE (0.6 microg/ml) increased (approximately 40%) mitochondrial activity, without affecting free radicals levels. In comparison to OGD controls, slices incubated with POEE (0.6 microg/ml) during and after OGD exposure had significantly increased cellular viability. In addition, at this same concentration, POEE prevented the increase of free radicals content induced by OGD. In view of the fact that respiratory chain inhibition and increased generation of free radicals are major consequences of the ischemic injury, this study suggests that Ptychopetalum olacoides contains useful neuroprotective compounds and, therefore, deserves further scrutiny.