© 2015. Age-related structural changes and gradual loss of key enzymes significantly affect the ability of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to facilitate proper protein folding and maintain homeostasis. In this work, we present several lines of evidence supporting the hypothesis that the age-related decline in expression of the ER chaperone glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) could be related to the development of Parkinson's disease. We first determined that old (24 months) rats exhibit significantly lower levels of GRP78 protein in the nigrostriatal system as compared with young (2 months) animals. Then using recombinant adeno-associate virus-mediated gene transfer, we found that GRP78 downregulation by specific small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) aggravates alpha-synuclein (α-syn) neurotoxicity in nigral dopamine (DA) neurons. Moreover, the degree of chaperone decline corresponds with the severity of neurodegeneration. Additionally, comparative analysis of nigral tissues obtained from old and young rats revealed that aging affects the capacity of nigral DA cells to upregulate endogenous GRP78 protein in response to human α-syn neurotoxicity. Finally, we demonstrated that a sustained increase of GRP78 protein over the course of 9 months protected aging nigral DA neurons in the α-syn-induced rat model of Parkinson's-like neurodegeneration. Our data indicate that the ER chaperone GRP78 may have therapeutic potential for preventing and/or slowing age-related neurodegeneration.