Abstract: Synapses are often located at great distances from the cell body and so must be capable of transducing signals into both local and distant responses. Although progress has been made in understanding biochemical cascades involved in neuronal death during development of the nervous system and in various neurodegenerative disorders, it is not known whether such cascades function locally in synaptic compartments. Prostate apoptosis response-4 (Par-4) is a leucine zipper and death domain-containing protein that plays a role in neuronal apoptosis. We now report that Par-4 levels are rapidly increased in cortical synaptosomes and in dendrites of hippocampal neurons in culture and in vivo, following exposure to apoptotic or excitotoxic insults. Par-4 expression is regulated at the translational level within synaptic compartments. Par-4 antisense treatment suppressed mitochondrial dysfunction and caspase activation in synaptosomes and prevented death of cultured hippocampal neurons following exposure to excitotoxic and apoptotic insults. Local translational regulation of death-related proteins in synaptic compartments may play a role in programmed cell death, adaptive remodeling of synapses, and neurodegenerative disorders.