Activation of phospholipase A(2), degradation of membrane phospholipids resulting in tissue accumulation of arachidonic acid, and the activation of cyclooxygenase that leads to the formation of prostaglandin and free radicals may occur after hypoxic-ischemic damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of indomethacin, a nonselective cyclooxygenase inhibitor, on caspase activity, glutathione levels and lipid peroxidation in newborn rats with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. The effects of indomethacin were evaluated by measuring caspase-3 and caspase-8 activities and glutathione levels. Lipid peroxidation was evaluated by measuring concentrations of malondialdehyde in rat brains. Seven-day-old rat pups with the Levine-Rice model of hypoxic-ischemic cerebral injury were randomly divided into three study groups. in the indomethacin-treated group, rats were administered three doses of indomethacin, at a dose of 2 mg/kg every 12 h. Sham and the hypoxic-ischemic group of rats were given physiologic saline. The sham group underwent all surgical procedures except for arterial ligation. After 72 hours, the rats were decapitated and brain tissues were evaluated. Caspase-3 and caspase-8 activities and glutathione and malondialdehyde levels were evaluated in all groups. There was an obvious decrease in caspase-3 and caspase-8 activities and depleted glutathione levels were reversed in the indomethacin-treated group compared to the hypoxic-ischemia group (p<0.001). As indomethacin was unable to prevent lipid peroxidation, malondialdehyde concentrations increased to ischemia-induced levels. in conclusion, indomethacin administration after hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy injury has a neuroprotective effect since it inhibits caspase activity and reverses the depletion of glutathione. However, it also aggravates lipid peroxidation-induced ischemia. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.