The failure of past efforts to develop effective stroke treatments is at least partially because these treatments often interfered with essential physiological functions, even though they are targeted toward pathophysiological events, such as inflammation, excitotoxicity, and oxidative stress. Thus, the direct targeting of endogenous neuroprotective or destructive elements holds promise as a potential new approach to treating this devastating condition. Interferon regulatory factor 9 (IRF9), a transcription factor that regulates innate immune responses, has been implicated in neurological pathology. Here, we provide new evidence that IRF9 directly mediates neuronal death in male mice. In response to ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), IRF9 accumulated in neurons. IRF9 deficiency markedly mitigated both poststroke neuronal death and neurological deficits, whereas the neuron-specific overexpression of IRF9 sensitized neurons to death. The histone deacetylase Sirt1 was identified as a novel negative transcriptional target of IRF9 both in vivo and in vitro. IRF9 inhibits Sirt1 deacetylase activity, culminating in the acetylation and activation of p53-mediated cell death signaling. Importantly, both the genetic and pharmacological manipulation of Sirt1 effectively counteracted the pathophysiological effects of IRF9 on stroke outcome. These findings indicate that, rather than activating a delayed innate immune response, IRF9 directly activates neuronal death signaling pathways through the downregulation of Sirt1 deacetylase in response to acute I/R stress.