14-3-3 proteins are important negative regulators of cell death pathways. Recent studies have revealed alterations in 14-3-3s in Parkinson's disease (PD) and the ability of 14-3-3s to interact with α-synuclein (α-syn), a protein central to PD pathophysiology. In a transgenic α-syn mouse model, we found reduced expression of 14-3-3, -, and -γ. These same isoforms prevent α-syn inclusion formation in an H4 neuroglioma cell model. Using dopaminergic cell lines stably overexpressing each 14-3-3 isoform, we found that overexpression of 14-3-3, -, or -γ led to resistance to both rotenone and 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium, whereas other isoforms were not protective against both toxins. Inhibition of a single protective isoform, 14-3-3, by shRNA did not increase vulnerability to neurotoxic injury, but toxicity was enhanced by broad-based inhibition of 14-3-3 action with the peptide inhibitor difopein. Using a transgenic C. elegans model of PD, we confirmed the ability of both human 14-3-3 and a C. elegans 14-3-3 homologue (ftt-2) to protect dopaminergic neurons from α-syn toxicity. Collectively, these data show a strong neuroprotective effect of enhanced 14-3-3 expression - particularly of the 14-3-3, -, and -γ isoforms - in multiple cellular and animal models of PD, and point to the potential value of these proteins in the development of neuroprotective therapies for human PD. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.