Studying endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms induced by preconditioning may provide drug leads to reduce ischemic neuronal death. In this study, we used 2-DE to examine protein expression following cycloheximide, heat stress, and MK801 preconditioning in rat cortical neuronal cultures. Of 150 differentially expressed protein spots selected for identification the protein or tentative protein(s) were identified in 84 cases, representing 50 different proteins. Different protein spots representing the same protein or closely related protein(s) occurred for 21 of the identified proteins and are likely to represent PTMs or proteolytic fragments of the protein. Six protein spots (actin, elongation factor 1-alpha 1, peptidyl-prolyl cis-transisomerase A, Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, stathmin, tropomyosin) were differentially expressed in all three preconditioning treatments. Twenty-seven protein spots were differentially expressed in two preconditioning treatments, while 51 spots were differentially expressed in one treatment. Three proteins heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins A2/B1, mitochondrial stress-70 protein, and tropomyosin were detected in control neuronal cultures, but not following one or more preconditioning treatments, while a posttranslational modified form of the voltage dependent anion channel 1 was only detected following cycloheximide preconditioning. In summary, this study has revealed multiple protein changes potentially involved in neuroprotective and neurodamaging pathways, which require further characterization.