Acupuncture has a positive effect on cognitive deficits. However, the effects of laser acupuncture (LA) on cognitive function and its mechanisms of action are unclear. The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of LA on middle cerebral artery occlusion- (MCAO-) induced cognitive impairment and its mechanisms of action. Transient focal cerebral ischemia was modeled in adult Sprague-Dawley rats by MCAO. After LA or manual-acupuncture (MA) treatment at the GV20 and HT7 for 2 weeks, hippocampal-dependent memory was evaluated using the Morris water maze (MWM) test. The hippocampus was dissected to analyze choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunoreactivity and Creb, Bdnf, Bcl-2, and Bax gene expressions. MWM test demonstrated a significant improvement in hippocampal-dependent memory in the MCAO rats after LA treatment. LA treatment significantly reversed the postischemic decrease in ChAT immunoreactivity in the hippocampal CA1 region. LA treatment significantly normalized gene expression in the hippocampus which had been altered by MCAO, especially upregulating gene expression of Creb, Bdnf, and Bcl-2 and downregulating gene expression of Bax. This study suggests that LA treatment could improve cognitive impairment in MCAO rats to enhance the cholinergic system in the hippocampal CA1 region and to exert a neuroprotective effect by regulating Creb, Bdnf, Bcl-2, and Bax gene expressions.