Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes neuronal cell death as well as microglial activation and related neurotoxicity that contribute to subsequent neurological dysfunction. Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) induces neuronal cell death through activation of caspase-independent mechanisms, including release of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF), and microglial activation. Administration of PJ34, a selective PARP-1 inhibitor, reduced cell death of primary cortical neurons exposed to N-Methyl-N'-Nitro-N-Nitrosoguanidine (MNNG), a potent inducer of AIF-dependent cell death. PJ34 also attenuated lipopolysaccharide and interferon-γ-induced activation of BV2 or primary microglia, limiting NF-κB activity and iNOS expression as well as decreasing generation of reactive oxygen species and TNFα. Systemic administration of PJ34 starting as late as 24 h after controlled cortical impact resulted in improved motor function recovery in mice with TBI. Stereological analysis demonstrated that PJ34 treatment reduced the lesion volume, attenuated neuronal cell loss in the cortex and thalamus, and reduced microglial activation in the TBI cortex. PJ34 treatment did not improve cognitive performance in a Morris water maze test or reduce neuronal cell loss in the hippocampus. Overall, our data indicate that PJ34 has a significant, albeit selective, neuroprotective effect after experimental TBI, and its therapeutic effect may be from multipotential actions on neuronal cell death and neuroinflammatory pathways.