This study was aimed to investigate the potential neuroprotective effect of neuropeptide Y (NPY) on the survival of dopaminergic cells in both in vitro and in animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD). NPY protected human SH-SY5Y dopaminergic neuroblastoma cells from 6-hydroxydopamine-induced toxicity. In rat and mice models of PD, striatal injection of NPY preserved the nigrostriatal dopamine pathway from degeneration as evidenced by quantification of (1) tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta, levels of (2) striatal tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter, (3) dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) as well as (4) rotational behavior. NPY had no neuroprotective effects in mice treated with Y(2) receptor antagonist or in transgenic mice deficient for Y(2) receptor suggesting that NPY effects are mediated through this receptor. Stimulation of Y(2) receptor by NPY triggered the activation of both the ERK1/2 and Akt pathways but did not modify levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. These results open new perspectives in neuroprotective therapies using NPY and suggest potential beneficial effects in PD.