The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) plays an important role in ischemic neuronal cell death. In order to determine the effect of dantrolene, a ryanodine receptor antagonist, on ER stress response and ischemic brain injury, we investigated changes in ER stress-related molecules, that is phosphorylated form of double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (p-PERK), phosphorylated form of eukaryotic initiation factor 2alpha (p-eIF2alpha), activating transcription factor-4 (ATF-4), and C/EBP-homologous protein (CHOP), as well as terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) in the peri-ischemic area and ischemic core region of rat brain after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). In contrast to the cases treated with vehicle, the infarct volume and TUNEL-positive cells were significantly reduced at 24 h of reperfusion by treatment with dantrolene. The immunoreactivities for p-PERK, p-eIF2alpha, ATF-4, and CHOP were increased at the ischemic peripheral region after MCAO, which were partially inhibited by dantrolene treatment. The present results suggest that dantrolene significantly decreased infarct volume and provided neuroprotective effect on rats after transient MCAO by reducing ER stress-mediated apoptotic signal pathway activation in the ischemic area.