The ‘classical’ renin–angiotensin system (RAS) is a circulating system that controls blood pressure. Local/paracrine RAS, identified in a variety of tissues, including the brain, is involved in different functions and diseases, and RAS blockers are commonly used in clinical practice. A third type of RAS (intracellular/intracrine RAS) has been observed in some types of cells, including neurons. However, its role is still unknown. The present results indicate that in brain cells the intracellular RAS counteracts the intracellular superoxide/H2O2 and oxidative stress induced by the extracellular/paracrine angiotensin II acting on plasma membrane receptors. Activation of nuclear receptors by intracellular or internalized angiotensin triggers a number of mechanisms that protect the cell, such as an increase in the levels of protective angiotensin type 2 receptors, intracellular angiotensin, PGC-1α and IGF-1/SIRT1. Interestingly, this protective mechanism is altered in isolated nuclei from brains of aged animals. The present results indicate that at least in the brain, AT1 receptor blockers acting only on the extracellular or paracrine RAS may offer better protection of cells.