Xanthoceraside, a novel triterpenoid saponin extracted from the husks of Xanthoceras sorbifolia Bunge, has neuroprotective effects in vivo and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro. However, the exact mechanism of xanthoceraside on anti-amyloid beta (Aβ)-induced neuroinflammatory responses has not been elucidated. Therefore, we used intracerebroventricular injection of amyloid 1-42 (Aβ1-42) to establish a mouse model to test the effects of xanthoceraside on Aβ-induced cognitive impairments and the TLR2/NF-κB and MAPK pathways. The mice received xanthoceraside (0.02, 0.08 or 0.32mg/kg) or vehicle from the day of Aβ1-42 injection. The Morris water maze test was performed 4 days after Aβ1-42 injection. The levels of inflammatory cytokines (interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-4) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The expression levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and cluster of differentiation 11b (CD11b) in the hippocampus were determined with an immunohistochemistry assay. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) were analysed by Western blotting; iNOS, COX-2 and Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) mRNA expression levels were measured by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Here, we observed that xanthoceraside at doses of 0.08 and 0.32mg/kg significantly improved learning and memory impairments and significantly inhibited GFAP and CD11b overexpression induced by Aβ1-42 in mice. ELISA results revealed that xanthoceraside suppressed IL-6 release and increased IL-4 levels. Western blotting results showed that xanthoceraside reduced iNOS and COX-2 protein levels in hippocampus; xanthoceraside also inhibited translocation of NF-κB p50 and p65 into the nucleus and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38. RT-PCR confirmed that xanthoceraside decreased iNOS, COX-2 and TLR2 mRNA levels. These results suggest that xanthoceraside inhibition of the TLR2 pathway and down-regulation of MAPK and NF-κB activities may be related to the improvement in learning and memory impairments.