Acute hypoxic preconditioning (AHPC) can confer neuroprotection from global cerebral ischemia such as cardiac arrest. We hypothesize that acute neuroprotection by AHPC will be detected early by quantitative EEG (qEEG) entropy analysis after asphyxial cardiac arrest (aCA). Cerebral ischemia lowers EEG signal randomness leading to low entropy. A qEEG entropy index defined as the duration when the entropy measure is 15% below uninjured baseline entropy is used as a measure of injury. We compared 3 groups of adult Wistar rats: (1) untreated controls that were subjected to 5 min of aCA and were resuscitated (n = 5); (2) AHPC-treated group with 10% FI O2 for 30 min, then 25 min of room air, 5 min of aCA followed by resuscitation (n = 5); and (3) a surgical sham group (no aCA) (n = 3). Functional outcome was assessed by neurodeficit score (NDS) which consisted of level of consciousness, cranial nerve, motor-sensory function, and simple behavioral tests (best = 100 and brain dead = 0). We found that increasing entropy index of injury at 0-5 h from return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is associated with worsening NDS at 24 h (linear regression: r = 0.81, P < 0.001). The NDS of the group sham (84.7 +/- 2.8) (mean +/- SEM) and AHPC group (84.6 +/- 2.9, P > 0.05) was better than control injury group (52.2 +/- 8.4, P < 0.05) (ANOVA with Tukey test). We therefore conclude that AHPC confers acute neuroprotection at 24 h, which was detected by qEEG entropy during the first 5 h after injury.