We have previously shown that lovastatin, an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, induces apoptosis in rat brain neuroblasts. c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) are implicated in regulation of neuronal apoptosis. In this work, we investigated the role of JNK and p38 MAPK in neuroblast apoptosis induced by lovastatin. We found that lovastatin induced the activation of JNK, but not p38 MAPK. It also induced c-Jun phosphorylation with a subsequent increase in activator protein-1 (AP-1) binding, AP-1-mediated gene expression and BimEL protein levels. The effects of lovastatin were prevented by mevalonate. Pre-treatment with iJNK-I (a selective JNK inhibitor) prevented the effect of lovastatin on both neuroblast apoptosis and the activation of the JNK cascade. Furthermore, we found that the activation of the JNK signalling pathway triggered by lovastatin is accompanied by caspase-3 activation which is also inhibited by iJNK-I pre-treatment. Finally, a specific inhibitor of p38 MAPK, SB203580, had no effect on lovastatin-induced neuroblast apoptosis. Taken together, our data suggest that the activation of the JNK/c-Jun/BimEL signalling pathway plays a crucial role in lovastatin-induced neuroblast apoptosis. Our findings may also contribute to elucidate the intracellular mechanisms involved in the central nervous system side effects associated with statin therapy.