Ginseng, the root of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer (Araliaceae), is a widely used herbal medicine. Ginsenosides, the active ingredients of ginseng, are the main components responsible for many beneficial actions of ginseng. In the present study, we tested 10 different ginsenosides in the previously developed in vitro Huntington's disease (HD) assay with primary medium spiny striatal neuronal cultures (MSN) from the YAC128 HD mouse model. We found that nanomolar concentrations of ginsenoside Rb1 and Rc effectively protected YAC128 medium spiny neurons from glutamate-induced apoptosis and that Rg5 was protective at micromolar concentration. The other seven ginsenosides tested were not effective or exerted toxic effects in MSN cultures. From further experiments, we suggested that neuroprotective effects of ginsenosides Rb1, Rc, and Rg5 could correlate with their ability to inhibit glutamate-induced Ca2+ responses in cultured MSN. From these results we concluded that ginsenosides Rb1, Rc, and Rg5 offer a potential therapeutic choice for the treatment of HD and possibly other neurodegenerative disorders. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.