Activation of the nuclear factor κB/c-Rel can increase neuronal resilience to pathological noxae by regulating the expression of pro-survival manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD, now known as SOD2) and Bcl-xL genes. We show here that c-Rel-deficient (c-rel(-/-)) mice developed a Parkinson's disease-like neuropathology with ageing. At 18 months of age, c-rel(-/-) mice exhibited a significant loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, as assessed by tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactivity and Nissl staining. Nigral degeneration was accompanied by a significant loss of dopaminergic terminals and a significant reduction of dopamine and homovanillic acid levels in the striatum. Mice deficient of the c-Rel factor exhibited a marked immunoreactivity for fibrillary α-synuclein in the substantia nigra pars compacta as well as increased expression of divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) and iron staining in both the substantia nigra pars compacta and striatum. Aged c-rel(-/-) mouse brain were characterized by increased microglial reactivity in the basal ganglia, but no astrocytic reaction. In addition, c-rel(-/-) mice showed age-dependent deficits in locomotor and total activity and various gait-related deficits during a catwalk analysis that were reminiscent of bradykinesia and muscle rigidity. Both locomotor and gait-related deficits recovered in c-rel(-/-) mice treated with l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine. These data suggest that c-Rel may act as a regulator of the substantia nigra pars compacta resilience to ageing and that aged c-rel(-/-) mice may be a suitable model of Parkinson's disease.