The present study was designed to investigate the protective effects of leonurine, a compound purified from that is active on ischemic rat behavior and cortical neurons, and explore the underlying mechanism. The general rat activity, cortical neuron morphology, superoxide dismutase (SOD), malondialdehyde (MDA), -aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate decarboxylase 67 (GAD67) levels were measured. We found leonurine significantly improve the general activity of rats in an open-field test, which was associated with attenuated neuronal damage induced by ischemia. Moreover, serum SOD activity was significantly greater, MDA level lower in the leonurine group as compared with ischemia group. In addition, GABA content in the cerebral cortex was significantly greater in high-dose leonurine group. Correspondingly, GAD67 protein level coincided with the GABA level. Taken together, our results demonstrated that leonurine attenuated brain injury during ischemia via antioxidative and anti-excitotoxicity effects by targeting GABA and leonurine might become a useful adjuvant neuroprotective agent.