NS 1231 [5-(4-chlorophenyl)-6,7,8,9-tetrahydro-1H-pyrrolo-[3.2-h]naphthalene-2,3-dione-3-oxime] belongs to a chemical series of compounds, which exhibit neurotrophic-like activities. In vitro, NS 1231 rescued nerve growth factor (NGF)- differentiated PC12 cells from death induced by withdrawal of trophic factors. In addition, NS 1231 stimulated NGF-induced neurite outgrowth of undifferentiated PC12 cells. At the molecular level, NS 1231 enhanced NGF-induced signalling events, such as TrkA phosphorylation at the Shc-binding site Tyr490 as well as ERK activation in PC12 cells. Moreover, NS 1231 reduced NMDA-induced excitotoxicity in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. In a gerbil model of transient global ischaemia, treatment with NS 1231 reduced the delayed loss of neurons in the hippocampal CA1 layer. Furthermore, NS 1231 treatment resulted in a 43% reduction in total infarct volume in the mouse middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model. The present data thus implicate a therapeutic potential of NS 1231 or structural analogues in treatment of cerebral ischaemia.