Epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to diesel exhaust (DE) is associated with vascular-based disorders. To investigate the effect of DE on blood–brain barrier (BBB) function and integrity, 8-week-old BALB/c mice were randomized to DE in a cyclical treatment regimen over a 2-week period. Functional integrity of BBB was determined by considering brain parenchymal abundance of IgG within the hippocampal formation and cortex at 6 h and 24 h intervals following final exposure treatment. Neurovascular inflammation was expressed as the abundance of glial fibrillar acidic protein. Two doses of DE were studied and compared to air-only treated mice. Mice exposed to DE had substantially greater abundance of parenchymal IgG compared to control mice not exposed to DE. Increased parenchymal glial fibrillar acidic protein at 24 h post-DE exposure suggested heightened neurovascular inflammation. Our findings are proof-of-concept that inhalation of DE can compromise BBB function and support the broader contention that DE exposure may contribute to neurovascular disease risk. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.