Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) catalyses the rate-limiting step of heme degradation to biliverdin, which is in turn reduced to bilirubin, CO and free iron. HO-1 can be induced by several harmful stimuli including oxidative stress, and it has a protective role against the cytotoxicity in different cells. 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridinium (MPP(+)) is a neurotoxic substance that induces the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. This study examined whether HO-1 can be induced by MPP(+) and whether HO-1 has a protective role against the MPP(+)-induced cytotoxicity in PC-12 cells. MPP(+) triggered a relatively rapid induction of HO-1. The MPP(+)-induced cytotoxicity and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production markedly increased by HO-1 inhibitor, zinc protoporphyrin-IX (ZnPP-IX). The increase of ROS production by ZnPP-IX was completely abrogated by either two products of HO (biliverdin or bilirubin) while the increase of cytotoxicity by ZnPP-IX was attenuated partially. These suggest that HO-1 expression might have some cytoprotective effect against MPP(+)-induced cytotoxicity.