OBJECTIVE Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is mainly characterized by intermittent hypoxia (IH) during sleep, being associated with several complications. Exposure to IH is the most widely used animal model of sleep apnea, short-term IH exposure resulting in cognitive and neuronal impairment. Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) is a hypoxia-sensitive factor acting as a neurotrophic, neuroprotective, and antiangiogenic agent. Our study analyzed performance on learning and cognitive tasks, as well as PEDF gene expression and PEDF protein expression in specific brain structures, in rats exposed to long-term IH. METHODS Male Wistar rats were exposed to IH (oxygen concentrations of 21-5%) for 6 weeks-the chronic IH (CIH) group-or normoxia for 6 weeks-the control group. After CIH exposure, a group of rats were allowed to recover under normoxic conditions for 2 weeks (the CIH+N group). All rats underwent the Morris water maze test for learning and memory, PEDF gene expression and PEDF protein expression in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and temporal cortex being subsequently assessed. RESULTS The CIH and CIH+N groups showed increased PEDF gene expression in the temporal cortex, PEDF protein expression remaining unaltered. PEDF gene expression and PEDF protein expression remained unaltered in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Long-term exposure to IH did not affect cognitive function. CONCLUSIONS Long-term exposure to IH selectively increases PEDF gene expression at the transcriptional level, although only in the temporal cortex. This increase is probably a protective mechanism against IH-induced injury.