We investigated the influence of a non-specific nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor, N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), on brain nitrite concentration and acetylcholine esterase activity in AlCl3-treated Wistar rats. Animals were killed 10 min, three hours, three days and 30 days after the treatment and hippocampus and basal forebrain were removed. The biochemical changes observed in neuronal tissues show the involvement of NO in the AlCl3 toxicity and cholinergic neurotransmission, and that L-NAME may have potential neuroprotective effects. Active avoidance learning was significantly impaired after AlCl3 application, while pretreatment with L-NAME prevented the behavioural deficits caused by AlCl3. We also applied immunohistochemical techniques to identify changes induced by AlCl3, L-NAME+AlCl3, as well as L-NAME injections after survival periods of three days and 30 days. Immunoreactivity of astrocytes and phagocytic microglia based on glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and a useful marker for rat macrophages (ED1), respectively, revealed a greater inflammatory response in AlCl3-injected animals compared to controls.