The aim of this study was to investigate the possible role of the Heat Shock Protein 70 (HSP70) and Alpha B-crystallin (alpha BC) in the substantia nigra of rats exposed to permethrin at different doses on the apoptotic cell status. The orogastric gavage method was used to administer the different doses of permethrin (75 mg kg(-1) in Group I, 150 mg kg(-1) in group II, 300 mg kg(-1) in group III) to the rats. Using the Western blot test, all the permethrin-treated groups showed a dose-dependent increase in the expression of HSP70 and alpha BC when compared to the control group. TUNEL positive apoptotic cells were not detected in the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra after treatment with permethrin; however, upon immunofluorescent staining, intense positive reactions for HSP70 and alpha BC were observed in all of the treated groups. No immunopositive cells were detected in the tissue sections of the control group. These results suggest that the different administered doses of permethrin did not cause apoptotic cell death in the substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons; however, they did induce an increase in HSP70 and alpha BC expression. Thus, it appears that HSP70 and alpha BC could play a neuroprotective role in permethrin-induced neurotoxicity.