The molecular mechanisms responsible for increasing iron and neurodegeneration in brain ischemia are an interesting area of research which could open new therapeutic approaches. Previous evidence has shown that activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) through RelA acetylation on Lys310 is the prerequisite for p50/RelA-mediated apoptosis in cellular and animal models of brain ischemia. We hypothesized that the increase of iron through a NF-κB-regulated 1B isoform of the divalent metal transporter-1 (1B/DMT1) might contribute to post-ischemic neuronal damage. Both in mice subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and in neuronally differentiated SK-N-SH cells exposed to oxygen-glucose-deprivation (OGD), 1A/DMT1 was only barely expressed while the 1B/DMT1 without iron-response-element (-IRE) protein and mRNA were early up-regulated. Either OGD or over-expression of 1B/(-)IRE DMT1 isoform significantly increased iron uptake, as detected by total reflection X-ray fluorescence, and iron-dependent cell death. Iron chelation by deferoxamine treatment or (-)IRE DMT1 RNA silencing displayed significant neuroprotection against OGD which concomitantly decreased intracellular iron levels. We found evidence that 1B/(-)IRE DMT1 was a target gene for RelA activation and acetylation on Lys310 residue during ischemia. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the 1B/DMT1 promoter showed there was increased interaction with RelA and acetylation of H3 histone during OGD exposure of cortical neurons. Over-expression of wild-type RelA increased 1B/DMT1 promoter-luciferase activity, the (-)IRE DMT1 protein, as well as neuronal death. Expression of the acetylation-resistant RelA-K310R construct, which carried a mutation from lysine 310 to arginine, but not the acetyl-mimic mutant RelA-K310Q, down-regulated the 1B/DMT1 promoter, consequently offering neuroprotection. Our data showed that 1B/(-)IRE DMT1 expression and intracellular iron influx are early downstream responses to NF-κB/RelA activation and acetylation during brain ischemia and contribute to the pathogenesis of stroke-induced neuronal damage.