Purple sweet potato color (PSPC), a class of naturally occurring anthocyanins, protects brain function against oxidative stress induced by D-galactose (D-gal) (Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, MO, USA). Our data showed that PSPC enhanced open-field activity, decreased step-through latency, and improved spatial learning and memory ability in D-gal-treated old mice by decreasing advanced glycation end-products' (AGEs) formation and the AGE receptor (RAGE) expression, and by elevating Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn-SOD) (Sigma-Aldrich) and catalase (CAT) expression and activity. Cleavage of caspase-3 and increased terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate (dUTP) nick-end-labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells in D-gal-treated old mice were inhibited by PSPC, which might be attributed to its antioxidant property. PSPC also suppressed the activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria that counteracted the onset of neuronal apoptosis in D-gal-treated old mice. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activation was required for PSPC to promote the neuronal survival accompanied with phosphorylation and activation of Akt and p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) by using PI3K inhibitor LY294002 (Cell Signaling Technology, Inc., Beverly, MA, USA), implicating a neuronal survival mechanism. The present results suggest that neuronal survival promoted by PSPC may be a potentially effective method to enhance resistance of neurons to age-related disease.