The pathways involved in neuronal survival or death have been extensively studied mainly in cell lines. Recent evidence has suggested that activation of the stress activated pathways, jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 may play important roles in neuronal cell death or regeneration. In this review we will discuss these pahtways in detail. We will examine the evidence that these pathways are important in neuronal cell death. Finally we will review the evidence that inhibitors of these pathways have a neuroprotective effect both in vitro and in vivo.