Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a pleiotropic bioactive peptide that was first isolated from an ovine hypothalamus in 1989. PACAP belongs to the secretin/glucagon/vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) superfamily. PACAP is widely distributed in the central and peripheral nervous systems and acts as a neurotransmitter, neuromodulator, and neurotrophic factor via three major receptors (PAC1, VPAC1, and VPAC2). Recent studies have shown a neuroprotective role of PACAP using in vitro and in vivo models. In this review, we briefly summarize the current findings on the neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects of PACAP in different brain injury models, such as cerebral ischemia, Parkinson's disease (PD), and Alzheimer's disease (AD). This review will provide information for the future development of therapeutic strategies in treatment of these neurodegenerative diseases.