OBJECTIVE Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 is a transcription factor that regulates the expression of various neuroprotective genes. The goal of this study was to clarify the relationship between HIF-1 expression and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and to characterize the effects of deferoxamine (DFO)-induced increases in HIF-1 protein levels on the brainstem and the basilar artery (BA) after experimental SAH. METHODS Rat single- and double-hemorrhage models (injected on Days 0 and 2) of SAH were used. We assessed the time courses for HIF-1 protein levels in the brainstems and the BA diameters within 10 minutes and 6 hours on Days 1 and 2 in the single-SAH model, and also on Day 7 in the double-SAH model. After induction of double hemorrhage in rats, DFO was injected intraperitoneally. We then evaluated HIF-1 protein expression and brainstem activity, BA diameter, and brainstem blood flow. RESULTS After the rats experienced SAH, HIF-1 protein expression was significantly greater at 10 minutes in the single-injection model and at 7 days in the double-injection model than at similar time points in the control group, and these increases correlated with degrees of cerebral vasospasm. DFO injection resulted in significant increases in HIF-1 protein expression and activity in the brainstems of rats with SAH, compared with the rats with SAH that were given placebos, and the rats without SAH in the double-hemorrhage model. Cerebral vasospasm and reduction of brainstem blood flow were significantly attenuated in the rats that were administered DFO. CONCLUSION These results show that a DFO-induced increase in HIF-1 protein level and activity exerts significant attenuation of BA vasospasm and reduction of brainstem blood flow in the rat model of SAH. DFO may be a promising agent for treating clinical SAH.