✓ The ability of a competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist (D-CPP-ene) to reduce irreversible brain damage has been examined in a rodent model of acute subdural hematoma. Acute subdural hematoma was produced by the slow injection of 400 µl homologous blood into the subdural space overlying the parietal cortex in halothane-anesthetized rats. Brain damage was assessed histologically in sections at multiple coronal planes in animals sacrificed 4 hours after induction of the subdural hematoma. Pretreatment with D-CPP-ene (15 mg/kg) significantly reduced the volume of ischemic brain damage produced by the subdural hematoma from 62 ± 8 cu mm (mean ± standard error of the mean) in vehicle-treated control rats to 29 ± 7 cu mm in drug-treated animals. These data demonstrate the anti-ischemic efficacy of NMDA antagonists in an animal model of intracranial hemorrhage in which intracranial pressure is elevated, and suggest that excitotoxic mechanisms (which are susceptible to antagonism by D-CPP-ene) may play a role in the ischemic brain damage which is observed in patients who die after acute subdural hematoma.