Prenatal exposed to an anti-inflammatory drug is a major problem for the developing central nervous system. It is not well known the effect of prenatal exposed to a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug on the hippocampus. Total neuron number in one side of the cornu ammonis (CA) and gyrus dentatus (GD) of the hippocampal formation in control and drug-treated (diclofenac sodium, DS) groups of male rats was estimated using the optical fractionator technique. Each main group has also two subgroups that are 4 weeks old (4W-old) and 20 weeks old (20W-old). In CA, no significant difference between 4W-old DS-treated and their control was found, but a significant difference was observed between 20W-old DS-treated and their controls. A decreasing of neuron number was 12% for 20W-old DS-treated group. In GD, a decreasing of the granule cell number in 4W-old of DS-treated group was seen but an increasing of granule cell number was found in the 20W-old drug-treated rats in comparison to its control group, 7% and 9%, respectively. Although an increasing of neuron number in CA at the control group was seen with age, from 4th week to 20th week (10%), age-dependent substantial granule cell decline (17%) was observed in GD. No age effect on the total cell numbers of CA and GD of the drug-treated groups was seen in comparison to 4W-old week and 20W-old. A pronounced neuron loss observed in the drug-treated group may be attributed to the neurotoxicity of diclofenac sodium (DS) on the developing hippocampal formation. Age-dependent neuron increase in the CA of 20W-old and neuron decline in GD of 20W-old control groups may be a result of a dual effect of saline injection during the fetal life, since these animals were exposed to a stress of 15-day-period of saline injection, prenatal stress. The reason of no age effect on CA and GD cell number in the drug-treated groups may be attributed to the depletion of the progenitor cells due to neurotoxicity of DS in the fetal life of these animals. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.