The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrates, and homeostasis of the brain is crucial for fish survival. Copper (Cu) is essential for normal cellular processes in most eukaryotic organisms but is toxic in excess. Although Cu is indicated as a potent neurotoxicant, information regarding its threat to fish brain and underlying mechanisms is still scarce. In accordance, the objective of this study was to assess the effects and the potential mechanism of Cu toxicity by evaluating brain oxidative status, the enzymatic and mRNA levels of antioxidant genes, as well as the Nrf2/ARE signaling in the brain of fish after Cu exposure. The protective effects of myo-inositol (MI) against subsequent Cu exposure were also investigated. The results indicate that induction of oxidative stress by Cu is shown by increases in brain ROS production, lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation, which are accompanied by depletions of antioxidants, including total superoxide dismutase (T-SOD), CuZnSOD, glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and glutathione reductase (GR) activities and glutathione (GSH) content. Cu exposure increased the catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activities. Further molecular results showed that Cu exposure up-regulated CuZnSOD, GPx1a and GR mRNA levels, suggesting an adaptive mechanism against stress. Moreover, Cu exposure increased fish brain Nrf2 nuclear accumulation and increased its ability of binding to ARE (CuZnSOD), which supported the increased CuZnSOD mRNA levels. In addition, Cu exposure caused increases of the expression of the Nrf2, Maf G1 (rather than Maf G2 gene) and PKCd genes, suggesting that de novo synthesis of those factors is required for the protracted induction of such antioxidant genes. However, the modulation of Keap1a (rather than Keap1b) of fish brain under Cu exposure might be used to turn off of the signaling cascade and avoid harmful effects. Interestingly, pre-treatment of fish with MI prevented the fish brain from Cu-induced oxidative damages mainly by increasing the GSH content and CuZnSOD and GST activities. Summarily, this study indicates that although Cu stimulates adaptive increases in the expression of some antioxidant enzyme genes through Nrf2/ARE signaling, it also induces oxidation and the depletion of most of antioxidant enzyme activities and GSH content due to the increase of ROS production, and MI protects the fish brain against Cu toxicity.