The brain is highly sensitive to hypoxia; this is true particularly of parts that are crucial for cognitive function. The effects of hypoxia are especially dramatic in the hippocampus. We evaluated the potential protective effects of poppy seed oil on the number of hippocampus cells and the serum antioxidant/oxidant status after cerebral ischemia and re-perfusion (CIR). Eighteen rats were divided into three equal groups. Group 1 served as the control group without CIR. Group 2 received poppy seed oil daily by oral gavage at a dose of 0.4 ml/kg, while group 3 was given 0.4 ml/kg saline solution by oral gavage per day; these treatments were continued for one month. Groups 2 and 3 were subjected to CIR induced by clamps on two points of both of the carotid arteries for 45 min followed by 45 min re-perfusion. There were significant decreases in the number of hippocampus cells between groups 1 and 2, and between groups 1 and 3. The mean cell number in group 2 was not significantly different from that of group 3. The serum nitric oxide levels in CIR groups were elevated significantly compared to controls, and were significantly higher in group 2 than in group 3. The glutathione levels were increased significantly in the poppy seed oil treated group compared to the saline CIR groups. The malondialdehyde levels were markedly increased in group 3 compared to both groups 1 and 2. Our study suggests that poppy seed oil can improve antioxidant defense capacity after CIR, although this treatment did not alter significantly the frequency of cell death.