Resveratrol (3,4',5-trihydroxy stilbene), a phytoalexin found in the skin and seeds of grapes, has been reported to possess anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, and antioxidant activities. In this work, we assessed the ability of resveratrol to upregulate heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) gene expression via activation of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) in cultured PC12 cells. Nrf2 is a transcription factor involved in the cellular protection against oxidative stress through antioxidant response element (ARE)-directed induction of several phase 2 detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes, such as HO-1. Here, we report that resveratrol induces HO-1 expression via the ARE-mediated transcriptional activation of Nrf2. Moreover, PC12 cells treated with resveratrol exhibited transient activation of Akt/protein kinase B and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2). LY294002 and U0126, pharmacological inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and MEK1/2 which are upstream of Akt and ERK1/2, respectively, attenuated resveratrol-induced HO-1 expression and exhibited antioxidant effects. Taken together, the above findings suggest that resveratrol augments cellular antioxidant defense capacity through induction of HO-1 via Nrf2-ARE signaling, thereby protecting PC12 cells from oxidative stress.