Direct (intracisternal) injection of aluminum complexes into rabbit brain results in a number of similarities with the neuropathological and biochemical changes observed in Alzheimer’s disease and provides the opportunity to assess early events in neurodegeneration. This mode of administration induces cytochrome c release from mitochondria, a decrease in Bcl-2 in both mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum, Bax translocation into mitochondria, activation of caspase-3, and DNA fragmentation. Coadministration of glial cell neuronal-derived factor (GDNF) inhibits these Bcl-2 and Bax changes, upregulates Bcl-XL, and abolishes the caspase-3 activity. Furthermore, treatment with GDNF dramatically inhibits apoptosis, as assessed by the TUNEL technique for detecting DNA damage. Treatment with GDNF may represent a therapeutic strategy to reverse the neuronal death associated with Alzheimer’s disease and may exert its effect on apoptosis-regulatory proteins.