The present study was undertaken to investigate the neuroprotective effects of resveratrol on 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced Parkinson's disease in rats. 6-OHDA-induced Parkinson's disease rat model involves chronic inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and oxidative stress, and the loss of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra is the predominant lesion. Resveratrol has been shown to have anti-inflammatory actions, and thus was tested for its beneficial effects using 6-OHDA-induced Parkinson's disease rat model. Adult Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were unilaterally injected with 6-OHDA (5 microg/2 microl) into the right striatum, and the striatum damage was assessed by rotational test, ultrahistopathology, and molecular alterations. Resveratrol (10, 20 and 40 mg/kg) was then given orally to Parkinson's disease rats, daily for 10 weeks to examine the protective effects. Rotational test (turns of rats) showed that resveratrol significantly attenuated apomorphine-induced turns of rats in 6-OHDA-injuried Parkinson's disease rat model as early as two weeks of administration. Ultrastructural analysis showed that resveratrol alleviated 6-OHDA-induced chromatin condensation, mitochondrial tumefaction and vacuolization of dopaminergic neurons in rat substantia nigra. Furthermore, resveratrol treatment also significantly decreased the levels of COX-2 and TNF-alpha mRNA in the substantia nigra as detected by real-time RT-PCR. COX-2 protein expression in the substantia nigra was also decreased as evidenced by Western blotting. These results demonstrate that resveratrol exerts a neuroprotective effect on 6-OHDA-induced Parkinson's disease rat model, and this protection is related to the reduced inflammatory reaction.