The present study shows that under glucose-deprived conditions immunostimulated astrocytes rapidly undergo death due to their increased susceptibility to endogenously produced peroxynitrite. Fe(III)tetrakis(N-methyl-4'-pyridyl)porphyrin (FeTMPyP), but not the structurally related compounds ZnTMPyP and H2TMPyP, prevented the death in glucose-deprived immunostimulated astrocytes. Consistently, FeTMPyP, not ZnTMPyP and H2TMPyP, completely blocked the elevation of nitrotyrosine immunoreactivity (a marker of peroxynitrite) and the depolarization of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential in glucose-deprived immunostimulated astrocytes. The present data suggest that peroxynitrite may be associated with glial cell death during metabolic deterioration in the cerebral ischemic penumbra. (C) 2001 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.