Bax ihibitor-1 (BI-1) has been characterized as an inhibitor of Bax-induced cell death in plants and various mammalian cell systems. To explore the function of BI-1 in neurons, we overexpressed BI-1 tagged to HA or GFP in rat nigral CSM14.1 and human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Stable BI-1 expression proved marked protection from cell death induced by thapsigargine, a stress agent blocking the Ca2+-ATPase of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) but failed to inhibit cell death induced by staurosporine, a kinase inhibitor initiating mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. Moreover, BI-1 was neuroprotective in a paradigm mimicking ischemia, namely oxygen-glucose as well as serum deprivation. Examination of the subcellular distribution revealed that BI-1 predominantly locates to the ER and nuclear envelope but not mitochondria. Taken together, BI-1 overexpression in the ER is protective in neurons, making BI-1 an interesting target for future studies aiming at the inhibition of neuronal cell death during neurodegenerative diseases and stroke.