Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein factor which has been found to play a significant role in both normal and pathological states. Its role as an angiogenic factor is well-established. More recently, VEGF has been shown to protect neurons from cell death both in vivo and in vitro. While VEGF's potential as a protective factor has been demonstrated in hypoxia-ischemia, in vitro excitotoxicity, and motor neuron degeneration, its role in seizure-induced cell loss has received little attention. A potential role in seizures is suggested by Newton et al.'s [Newton SS, Collier EF, Hunsberger J, Adams D, Terwilliger R, Selvanayagam E, Duman RS (2003) Gene profile of electroconvulsive seizures: Induction of neurotrophic and angiogenic factors. J Neurosci 23:10841-10851] finding that VEGF mRNA increases in areas of the brain that are susceptible to cell loss after electroconvulsive-shock induced seizures. Because a linear relationship does not always exist between expression of mRNA and protein, we investigated whether VEGF protein expression increased after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus. In addition, we administered exogenous VEGF in one experiment and blocked endogenous VEGF in another to determine whether VEGF exerts a neuroprotective effect against status epilepticus-induced cell loss in one vulnerable brain region, the rat hippocampus. Our data revealed that VEGF is dramatically up-regulated in neurons and glia in hippocampus, thalamus, amygdala, and neocortex 24 h after status epilepticus. VEGF induced significant preservation of hippocampal neurons, suggesting that VEGF may play a neuroprotective role following status epilepticus.