In the present study we investigated the effects of mixed imidazoline-1 and alpha(2)-adrenoceptor agonist, moxonidine, in glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in frontal cortical cell cultures of rat pups by dye exclusion test. Also, phosphorylated p38 mitogen activated protein kinases (p-p38 MAPK) levels were determined from rat frontal cortical tissue homogenates by two dimensional gel electrophoresis and semidry western blotting. Glutamate at a concentration of 10(-6) M was found neurotoxic when applied for 16 hr in cell cultures. Dead cell mean scores were 12.8 +/- 0.5 for control and 52.3 +/- 4.8 for glutamate (p<.001). On the other hand, p-p38 MAPK levels start to increase at a glutamate concentration of 10(-7) M for 20 min application. Moxonidine was found to have an U-shape neuroprotective effect in glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in neuronal cell culture experiments. Even though moxonidine did not induce neurotoxicity alone between the doses of 10(-8) to 10(-4) M concentrations in cell culture series, it caused the reduction of glutamate-induced dead cell population 23.07 +/- 3.6% in 10(-6) M and 26.7 +/- 2.1% in 10(-5) M concentrations (p<.001 for both, in respect to control values). The protective effect of moxonidine was confirmed in 10(-8) and 10-7 M, but not in higher concentrations in glutamate neurotoxicity in gel electrophoresis and western blotting of p-p38 MAPK levels. In addition to other studies that revealed an antihypertensive feature of moxonidine, we demonstrated a possible partial neuroprotective role in lower doses for it in glutamate-mediated neurotoxicity model.