Neurotrophic factors are essential to maintain and organize neurons functionally; thereby neurotrophic factor-like substances or their inducers are expected to be applied to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke. In the present study, we firstly examined the effects of ethanol extracts of Hericium erinaceus (HE, Yamabushitake), on nerve growth factor expression in neuronal cells. HE extract promoted NGF expression in a brain tissue. Here we assessed neuroprotective effects of HE with a transient global cerebral ischemia model. Global cerebral ischemia was induced by occluding both common carotid arteries. Treatment with HE was initiated after ischemia induction and given once a day for 7 consecutive days. Neuronal cell loss in CA1 of hippocampus was significantly decreased and the performance in the Morris water maze was significantly improved in rats administered HE. We conclude that treatment with HE attenuated learning and memory deficits, motor functional disability, and neuronal cell loss induced by global cerebral ischemia. These results suggest that HE may be a potential candidate for the treatment of vascular dementia.