Beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptides are key proteins in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). While Abeta42 aggregates very rapidly to form early diffuse plaques, supplemental Abeta40 deposition is required to form mature neuritic plaques. We here investigated the role of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway in Abeta40-mediated neuronal damage and amyloid pathology. In rat primary neurons and human postmitotic neuronal cells, the Abeta peptide induced a dose-dependent neuronal death, reduced the levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-XL, enhanced the cytosolic release of cytochrome c, and elicited the intracellular accumulation and secretion of Abeta42 oligomers. Moreover, Abeta40 activated the NF-kappaB pathway by selectively inducing the nuclear translocation of p65 and p50 subunits, and promoted an apoptotic profile of gene expression. As inhibitors of the NF-kappaB pathway, we tested the capability of a double-stranded kappaB decoy oligonucleotide, the anti-inflammatory drug aspirin and the selective IkappaB kinase 2 inhibitor, AS602868, to modify the Abeta40-mediated effects. These treatments, transiently applied before Abeta exposure, completely inhibited p50/p65 nuclear translocation and neuronal damage. The kappaB decoy also inhibited the Abeta-induced release of cytochrome c, restored the levels of Bcl-XL, and prevented intraneuronal accumulation and secretion of Abeta42. These results open up interesting perspectives on the development of novel strategies targeting out NF-kappaB p50/p65 dimers for pharmacological intervention in AD.