Although epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, its mechanism(s) are still not completely understood. Hypoxia can lead to neuronal cell death and angiogenesis, and the same mechanisms were also found in epilepsy. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is an important transcription protein that regulates gene expression in the brain and other tissues in response to decreases in oxygen availability. However, little is known regarding the expression of HIF-1α in the epileptic brain and whether HIF-1α interventions affect the epileptic process. The aims of this study are to investigate the expression profile of HIF-1α in rat models and to explore the role of HIF-1α in epilepsy. We performed Western blots and immunofluorescence in a lithium-pilocarpine rat epilepsy model. To determine the role of HIF-1α in epilepsy, we used the HIF-1α agonist DMOG and inhibitor KC7F2 to detect changes in the animal behavior in pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) and lithium-pilocarpine epilepsy models. The expression of HIF-1α was significantly increased after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus. DMOG significantly prolonged the latent period in the PTZ kindling model and decreased the rate of spontaneous recurrent seizures during the chronic stage in the lithium-pilocarpine model. Conversely, the inhibitor KC7F2 produced an opposite behavioral change. Interestingly, both KC7F2 and DMOG had no effect on the acute stage of pilocarpine model and PTZ convulsive model. Our study suggests that upregulated HIF-1α may be involved in the process of epileptogenesis but not in the acute stage of epilepsy. The modulation of HIF-1α may offer a novel therapeutic target in epilepsy. Synapse, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.