To estimate protective potential of citicoline in a model of birth asphyxia, the drug was given to 7-day old rats subjected to permanent unilateral carotid artery occlusion and exposed for 65 min to a hypoxic gas mixture. Daily citicoline doses of 100 or 300 mg/kg, or vehicle, were injected intraperitoneally for 7 consecutive days beginning immediately after the end of the ischemic-hypoxic insult, and brain damage was assessed by gross morphology score and weight deficit two weeks after the insult. Caspase-3, alpha-fodrin, Bcl-2, and Hsp70 levels were assessed at 0, 1, and 24 h after the end of the hypoxic insult in another group of rat pups subjected to the same insult and given a single dose of 300 mg/kg of citicoline or the vehicle. Citicoline markedly reduced caspase-3 activation and Hsp70 expression 24 h after the insult, and dose-dependently attenuated brain damage. In the context of the well-known excellent safety profile of citicoline, these data suggest that clinical evaluation of the efficacy of the drug in human birth asphyxia may be warranted.