(S)-ZJM-289, a novel nitric oxide (NO)-releasing derivative of 3-n-butylphthalide, induces the neuroprotection in a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). However, much is unknown about the late phase effect in the neuroprotection of (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning. The purpose of this study is to explore the late phase neuroprotection of (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning, as well as underlying mechanisms involved. Preconditioning with 40-160 mg/kg, (S)-ZJM-289 significantly reduces brain damage after I/R. (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning is effective when applied 1-3 days before I/R. Moreover, the degrees of neuroprotection offered by (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning and ischemic preconditioning are virtually identical. (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning also protects primary cultured cortical neurons against oxygen-glucose deprivation and recovery-induced cytotoxicity in vitro. (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning significantly increases the generation of NO, but has no effect on the nitric oxide synthase activities. Additionally, (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning promotes the dissociation between nuclear-factor-E2-related factor (Nrf2) and kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1, and induces Nrf2 nuclear localization. The neuroprotection of (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning is blocked by Nrf2-siRNA in vitro. (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning up-regulates antioxidant enzymes against nervous injury. (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning significantly activates extracellular regulated protein kinases (ERK) and inhibits c-Jun N-terminal kinases signaling cascade. The neuroprotection is abolished by the ERK inhibitor PD98059 in vitro. Subsequently, (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning increases the levels of anti-apoptotic protein B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) and inhibited the translocation of Bcl-2 associated X to the mitochondria, thus attenuating the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria and the activation of downstream caspase. These results suggest that (S)-ZJM-289 preconditioning exerts the late phase protection against nervous injury induced by transient cerebral ischemia and oxygen-glucose deprivation.