Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) are strongly associated with oxidative stress, which is induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) including hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)). Recent studies suggest that moderate coffee consumption may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this effect remain to be clarified. In this study, we investigated the protective effects of chlorogenic acid (5-O-caffeoylquinic acid; CGA), a major phenolic phytochemical found in instant decaffeinated coffee (IDC), and IDC against oxidative PC12 neuronal cell death. IDC (1 and 5 microg/ml) or CGA (1 and 5 microM) attenuated H(2)O(2)-induced PC12 cell death. H(2)O(2)-induced nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentation were strongly inhibited by pretreatment with IDC or CGA. Pretreatment with IDC or CGA also inhibited the H(2)O(2)-induced cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), and downregulation of Bcl-X(L) and caspase-3. The accumulation of intracellular ROS in H(2)O(2)-treated PC12 cells was dose-dependently diminished by IDC or CGA. The activation of c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) by H(2)O(2) in PC12 cells was also inhibited by IDC or CGA. Collectively, these results indicate that IDC and CGA protect PC12 cells from H(2)O(2)-induced apoptosis by blocking the accumulation of intracellular ROS and the activation of MAPKs.