In Parkinson's disease, the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra leads to debilitating motor dysfunction. In the present study, we investigated the effects of treadmill exercise on the dopaminergic neuronal cell death in the substantia nigra and on the dopaminergic fiber loss in the striatum of Parkinson's rats. Parkinson's rats were made by injecting 6-hydroxydopamine into the striatum with using a stereotaxic instrument. The rats in the exercise groups were put on the treadmill to run for 30 min once a day for 14 consecutive days after 6-hydroxydopamine administration into the striatum. Two weeks after the intrastriatal injection of 6-hydroxydopamine, the rats without treadmill exercise displayed rotational asymmetry following injection of apomorphine (0.5 mg/kg, s.c.). In contrast, the rats undergoing treadmill exercise showed a significant reduction of rotational asymmetry. Analysis via immunohistochemistry for the tyrosine hydroxylase expression revealed a substantial loss of cell bodies in the substantia nigra and their projected fibers in the striatum ipsilateral to the lesion following 6-hydroxydapamine injection into the striatum. However, treadmill running enhanced the survival of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and also their fibers projecting into the striatum. The results of the present study show that treadmill exercise may provide therapeutic value for the treatment of Parkinson's disease patients.