Background/Aims: Recent researches highlighted the protective potential of pioglitazone, a PPAR-γ agonist, in the progression of cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury. However, there has been no study on the application of pioglitazone in treating ischemic stroke through mechanisms involving pyroptosis. Methods: The cerebral injury was established by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). in vitro ischemia in primary cultured astrocytes was induced by the oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD). ELISA and Western Blot analysis were employed to the levels of PPAR-γ, pyroptosis-related biomarkers and cytoplasmic translocation of HMGB-1 and RAGE expression as well as Rac1 activity, respectively. Results: We demonstrated that repeated intraperitoneal administration of pioglitazone remarkably... reduced the infarct volume, improved neurological deficits and suppressed the Rac1 activity with significant reduction of excessive ROS in rat model of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Moreover, pioglitazone alleviated the up-regulation of pyroptosis-related biomarkers and the increased cytoplasmic translocation of HMGB-1 and RAGE expression in cerebral penumbra cortex. Similarly, the protective effects of pioglitazone on cultured astrocytes were characterized by reduced Rac1 activity, pyroptosis related protein expressions and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release. However, these protective effects of pioglitazone were neutralized with the use of GW9662, a PPAR-γ inhibitor. Interestingly, Rac1 knockdown in lentivirus with the Rac1 small hair RNA (shRNA) could inhibit the OGD-induced pyroptosis of primary cultured astrocytes. Furthermore, the combination of Rac1-shRNA and pioglitazone can further strengthen the inhibitory effects on pyroptosis induced by OGD. Conclusion: The neuroprotection of pioglitazone was attributable to the alleviated ischemia/hypoxia-induced pyroptosis and was also associated with the PPARγ-mediated suppression of HGMB-1/RAGE signaling pathway. Moreover, the inhibition of Rac1 promoted this function.