Delayed neuronal cell death largely contributes to the progressive infarct development and associated functional impairments after cerebral ischemia or brain trauma. Previous studies exposed a key role for the interaction of the mitochondrial protein apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and cytosolic cyclophilin A (CypA) in pathways of programmed cell death in neurons in vitro and in vivo. These studies suggested that pro-apoptotic activities of AIF, such as its translocation to the nucleus and subsequent DNA degradation, depend on the physical interaction of AIF with CypA. Hence, this protein complex may represent a new pharmacological target for inhibiting the lethal action of AIF on the brain tissue. In this study, we show that the AIF amino-acid residues 370-394 mediate the protein complex formation of AIF with CypA. The synthetic AIF(370-394) peptide inhibited AIF/CypA complex formation in vitro by binding CypA with a K(D) of 12 μM. Further, the peptide exerted pronounced neuroprotective effects in a model of glutamate-induced oxidative stress in cultured HT-22 cells. In this model system of AIF-dependent cell death, the AIF(370-394) peptide preserved mitochondrial integrity, as detected by measurements of the mitochondrial membrane potential and quantification of mitochondrial fragmentation. Further, the AIF(370-394) peptide inhibited perinuclear accumulation of fragmented mitochondria, mitochondrial release of AIF to the nucleus and glutamate-induced cell death to a similar extent as CypA-siRNA. These data indicate that the targeting of the AIF-CypA axis is an effective strategy of neuroprotection.