OBJECTIVES: Effect of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) on spontaneous motor activity was tested in young rats after intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of rhEPO, followed by induction of cellular brain edema (CE). Induced changes in the spontaneous horizontal locomotor activity was studied by open field test (OFT). METHODS: CE was induced by water intoxication (WI) using standard method of fractional hyperhydration accompanied with desmopressin administration. Using the accepted method of OFT average time spent in locomotion (s) was determined. 48 young rats at the age of 25, and 35 days were divided into three groups - controls, rats after WI (OFT followed after 44 hours), and rats administered with rhEPO prior to application WI (OFT after 48 hours). RESULTS: In 35-day-old rats rhEPO administration increased the spontaneous locomotor activity, previously decreased by cellular edema. In 25-day-old rats, rhEPO administration prior to the induced CE, decreased spontaneous locomotor activity. CONCLUSION: Presented results demonstrate the neuroprotective capacity of rhEPO, manifested by elimination of the suppressive influence of CE on the locomotion in 35-day-old rats. In 25-day-old rats the neuroprotective effect was not present. These results confirmed that the 10 day interval in the development may represent a different stage of brain maturation in the relation to the neuroprotective effect of rhEPO.