In a model of perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain damage, we examined the neuroprotective efficacy of posttreatment with the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 and the AMPA receptor antagonist NBQX. Unilateral brain damage developed in 95% of rat pups subjected to hypoxia-ischemia with a 27.8 +/- 1.2% weight deficit of the damaged hemisphere. MK-801 in doses of 0.3 and 0.5 mg/kg i.p. reduced the brain damage by 61% (p < 0.001) and 43% (p < 0.001), respectively. A higher dose of MK-801 (0.75 mg/kg) did not offer neuroprotection. Treatment with NBQX (40 mg/kg) reduced the hemispheric lesion by 28% (p < 0.05). In conclusion, posttreatment with both NBQX and low doses of MK-801 reduced perinatal brain damage. The NMDA receptor antagonist offered stronger neuroprotection which is in agreement with a proposed NMDA receptor hyperactivity around postnatal day 7 in rats.