Oxidative stress and apoptosis play pivotal roles in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. We investigated the effects of vitamin E analogs on oxidative stress and apoptosis using primary neuronal cultures of rat striatum. A tocotrienol-rich fraction of edible oil derived from palm oil (Tocomin 50%), which contains alpha-tocopherol, and alpha-, gamma- and delta-tocotrienols, significantly inhibited hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced neuronal death. Each of the tocotrienols, purified from Tocomin 50% by high-performance liquid chromatography, significantly attenuated H2O2-induced neurotoxicity, whereas alpha-tocopherol did not. alpha-, gamma- and delta-Tocotrienols also provided significant protection against the cytotoxicity of a superoxide donor, paraquat, and nitric oxide donors, S-nitrosocysteine and 3-morpholinosydnonimine. Moreover, tocotrienols blocked oxidative stress-mediated cell death with apoptotic DNA fragmentation caused by an inhibitor of glutathione synthesis, L-buthionine-[S,R]-sulfoximine. In addition, alpha-tocotrienol, but not gamma- or delta-tocotrienol, prevented oxidative stress-independent apoptotic cell death, DNA cleavage and nuclear morphological changes induced by a non-specific protein kinase inhibitor, staurosporine. These findings suggest that alpha-tocotrienol can exert anti-apoptotic neuroprotective action independently of its antioxidant property. Among the vitamin E analogs examined, alpha-tocotrienol exhibited the most potent neuroprotective actions in rat striatal cultures.