Regional levels of prostate apoptosis response-4 (Par-4) protein and mRNA were measured after lateral fluid percussion (FP) brain injury in rats. Immunochemical studies indicated that Par-4 immunoreactivity (ir) is present in cortical neurons and hippocampal CA1-CA3 pyramidal neurons in uninjured rats. Increases of Par-4-ir were observed in the CA3 neurons of the ipsilateral hippocampus (IH), but not in injured left cortex (IC) at 48 h after FP brain injury. Levels of the Par-4 mRNA measured by RT-PCR assay and protein measured by Western blot procedure were significantly increased in the injured IC and IH, but not in the contralateral right cortex and hippocampus after brain injury. Levels of both Par-4 protein and mRNA were significantly increased in the IC and IH as early as 2 h and stayed elevated at 24 and 48 h after injury. These data show that the induction of proapoptotic Par-4 mRNA and protein occurs only in the IC and IH that have been observed to undergo apoptosis and neuronal cell loss after lateral FP brain injury. Because increased expression of Par-4 has been observed to contribute to apoptosis and cell death in cultured neurons, the present temporal pattern of Par-4 expression is consistent with a role for Par-4 in apoptosis and neuronal cell death after traumatic brain injury.