Activation of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), production of angiotensin-(1-7) [Ang-(1-7)] and stimulation of the Ang-(1-7) receptor Mas exert beneficial actions in various peripheral cardiovascular diseases, largely through opposition of the deleterious effects of angiotensin II via its type 1 receptor. Here we considered the possibility that Ang-(1-7) may exert beneficial effects against CNS damage and neurological deficits produced by cerebral ischaemic stroke. We determined the effects of central administration of Ang-(1-7) or pharmacological activation of ACE2 on the cerebral damage and behavioural deficits elicited by endothelin-1 (ET-1)-induced middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), a model of cerebral ischaemia. The results of the present study demonstrated that intracerebroventricular infusion of either Ang-(1-7) or an ACE2 activator, diminazine aceturate (DIZE), prior to and following ET-1-induced MCAO significantly attenuated the cerebral infarct size and neurological deficits measured 72 h after the insult. These beneficial actions of Ang-(1-7) and DIZE were reversed by co-intracerebroventricular administration of the Mas receptor inhibitor, A-779. Neither the Ang-(1-7) nor the DIZE treatments altered the reduction in cerebral blood flow elicited by ET-1. Lastly, intracerebroventricular administration of Ang-(1-7) significantly reduced the increase in inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA expression within the cerebral infarct that occurs following ET-1-induced MCAO. This is the first demonstration of cerebroprotective properties of the ACE2-Ang-(1-7)-Mas axis during ischaemic stroke, and suggests that the mechanism of the Ang-(1-7) protective action includes blunting of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression.