We previously reported six neuroprotective decursinol derivatives, coumarins from Angelica gigas (Umbelliferae) roots. To elucidate the action patterns of decursinol derivatives, we investigated the neuroprotective effects of decursinol and decursin, which showed highly significant activity and were major constituents of A. gigas, using primary cultures of rat cortical cells in-vitro. At concentrations of 0.1–10.0 μM, both decursinol and decursin exerted a significant neuroprotective activity pretreatment and throughout treatment. In addition, decursin had a neuroprotective impact in the post-treatment paradigm implying that decursin might possess different action mechanisms from that of decursinol in the protection of neurons against glutamate injury. Both decursinol and decursin effectively reduced the glutamate-induced increased intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) in cortical cells, suggesting that these two coumarins may exert neuroprotection by reducing calcium influx by overactivation of glutamate receptors. This suggestion was supported by the result that decursinol and decursin protected neurons against kainic acid (KA)-induced neurotoxicity better than against that induced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Moreover, both decursinol and decursin significantly prevented glutamate-induced decreases in glutathione, a cellular antioxidant, and glutathione peroxidase activity. In addition, both compounds efficiently reduced the overproduction of cellular peroxide in glutamate-injured cortical cells. These results suggested that both decursinol and decursin protected primary cultured rat cortical cells against glutamate-induced oxidative stress by both reducing calcium influx and acting on the cellular antioxidative defence system. Moreover, decursin is considered to probably have a different action mechanism from that of decursinol in protecting cortical cells against glutamate injury.