Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) protects hippocampus from age-related and irradiation-induced changes that lead to impairment in synaptic function; the evidence suggests that this is due to its anti-inflammatory effects, specifically preventing changes induced by the proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1β (IL-1β). In this study, we have investigated the possibility that EPA may prevent the effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration, which have been shown to lead to deterioration of synaptic function in rat hippocampus. The data indicate that treatment of hippocampal neurones with EPA abrogated the LPS-induced increases in phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), the transcription factor, c-Jun and the mitochondrial protein, Bcl-2. In parallel, we report that intraperitoneal administration of LPS to adult rats increases phosphorylation of JNK, c-Jun and Bcl-2 in hippocampal tissue and that these changes are coupled with increased IL-1β concentration. Treatment of rats with EPA abrogates these effects and also blocks the LPS-induced impairment in long-term potentiation in perforant path-granule cell synapses that accompanies these changes. We propose that the neuroprotective effect of EPA may be dependent on its ability to inhibit the downstream consequences of JNK activation.