Inhibition of the canonical Wnt pathway has been implicated in the pathophysiology of neuronal death. Here, we report that the secreted Wnt antagonist, Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1) is rapidly induced in neurons after induction of focal brain ischemia. In rats undergoing transient focal ischemia in response to brain infusion of endothelin-1, Dkk-1 was induced in neurons of the ischemic core and the penumbra region. Induction of Dkk-1 was associated with a reduced expression of beta-catenin (a downstream signaling molecule of the canonical Wnt pathway), and was not observed in neurons expressing the protective protein, heat shock protein-70. Treatment with lithium ions, which, inter alia, rescue the canonical Wnt pathway, was highly protective against ischemic damage. Dkk-1 was also induced in cortical neurons of mice undergoing permanent middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion. This model allowed us to compare wild-type mice with doubleridge mice, which are characterized by a reduced expression of Dkk-1. Doubleridge mice showed an attenuated reduction of beta-catenin and a reduced infarct volume in response to MCA occlusion, providing a direct demonstration that Dkk-1 contributes to the pathophysiology of ischemic neuronal damage. These data rise the interesting possibility that Dkk-1 antagonists or drugs that rescue the Wnt pathway might be neuroprotective in stroke.