[en] Excitotoxic neuronal death induced by intracerebral injection of NMDA is a widely used model for investigating the potentially neuroprotective action of pharmacological agents against brain insults involving excitotoxic processes. Surprisingly, the time-course of NMDA-induced brain damage yet has not been investigated in the rat. Answering this question clearly needs to be assessed, given that the validity of preclinical neuroprotection studies requires to be insured that brain damage has reached a plateau that corresponds to the maximal extension of neuronal death at the time the brain is removed for histological analysis. Here, we investigated the time-course of neuronal death and the time-dependence validity of thionin coloration in rats that were given an intrastriatal injection of NMDA of 50 nmol or 70 nmol. Our results show that, whatever the dose used, NMDA-induced brain damage reaches its maximal value 24-48 h after the insult. They further indicate that the volume values of brain damage as estimated by thionin coloration constitute reliable data when the brain is removed up to 48 h after injection of NMDA. However, if the brain is removed more than 48 h after the excitotoxic insult onset, there is no alternative of using other techniques, such as immunochemical or neuroimaging techniques.