The aim of this experimental study was to investigate whether nebivolol has protective effects against neuronal damage induced by spinal cord ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). Twenty-one rabbits were divided into three groups: group I (control, no I/R), group II (only I/R) and group III (I/R+nebivolol). Spinal cord ischemia was induced by clamping the aorta both below the left renal artery and above the aortic bifurcation. Seventy-two hours postoperatively, the motor function of the lower limbs was evaluated in each animal. The animals were sacrificed at 72 h, and histopathological and biochemical analyses were carried out in the lumbar spinal cords. The motor deficit scores in nebivolol group were different from I/R group at 72 h (3.25 0.70 vs. 1.75 +/- 1.28, p=0.01). I/R produced a significant increase in the superoxide dismutase (SOD), xanthine oxidase (XO), adenosine deaminase (ADA) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activities in spinal cord tissue when compared with control group. Nebivolol treatment prevented the increase of all those enzymes activities produced by I/R. A significant decrease in spinal cord glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) level was seen in I/R group and nebivolol treatment prevented the decrement in the spinal cord tissue GSH-Px contents. On the other hand, I/R produced a significant increase in the spinal cord tissue malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) contents, this was prevented by nebivolol treatment. In conclusion, this study demonstrates a considerable neuroprotective effect of nebivolol on neurological, biochemical and histopathological status during periods of spinal cord I/R in rabbits. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.