Alpha-lipoic acid has some neuroprotective properties, but this action has not been investigated in models of epilepsy. The aim of the present study was to investigate the protective efficacy of α-lipoic acid (lipoic acid) against pilocarpine-induced cell death through the caspase-dependent or -independent mitochondrial apoptotic pathways. Wistar rats were injected intraperitoneally with 0.9% saline (control group), pilocarpine (400 mg/kg, pilocarpine group) alone, or α-lipoic acid (20 mg/kg) in association with pilocarpine (400 mg/kg) 30 min before administration of α-lipoic acid. After the treatments all groups were observed for 24 h. Cell death was reduced in lipoic acid-treated rats. Cytosolic translocation of cytochrome c and subsequent activation of caspase-3 were reduced by lipoic acid treatment. AIF nuclear translocation and subsequent large-scale DNA fragmentation were also decreased in lipoic acid-treated rats. Our study suggests that lipoic acid inhibits both caspase-dependent and -independent apoptotic pathways and may be neuroprotective against hippocampal damage during pilocarpine-induced seizures.