Excitotoxicity and cell death induced by glutamate are involved in many neurodegenerative disorders. We have previously demonstrated that excitotoxicity induced by millimolar concentrations of glutamate in hippocampal slices involves apoptotic features and glutamate-induced glutamate release. Guanosine, an endogenous guanine nucleoside, prevents excitotoxicty by its ability to modulate glutamate transport. In this study, we have evaluated the neuroprotective effect of guanosine against glutamate-induced toxicity in hippocampal slices and the mechanism involved in such an effect. We have found that guanosine (100 μM) was neuroprotective against 1 mM glutamate-induced cell death through the inhibition of glutamate release induced by glutamate. Guanosine also induced the phosphorylation and, thus, activation of protein kinase B (PKB/Akt), a downstream target of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K), as well as phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β, which has been reported to be inactivated by Akt after phosphorylation at Ser9. Glutamate treated hippocampal slices showed increased inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression that was prevented by guanosine. Slices preincubated with SNAP (an NO donor), inhibited the protective effect of guanosine. LY294002 (30 μM), a PI3K inhibitor, attenuated guanosine-induced neuroprotection, guanosine prevention of glutamate release, and guanosine-induced GSK3βSer9 phosphorylation but not guanosine reduction of glutamate-induced iNOS expression. Taken together, the results of this study show that guanosine protects hippocampal slices by a mechanism that involves the PI3K/Akt/GSK3βSer9 pathway and prevention of glutamate-induced glutamate release. Furthermore, guanosine also reduces glutamate-induced iNOS by a PI3K/Akt-independent mechanism. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.