Seizures, headache, depression and neurological deficits are the signs and symptoms most frequently reported in human neurocysticercosis. However, the cause of the associated learning and memory deficits is unknown. Here, we used Taenia crassiceps infection in mice as a model of human cysticercosis. The effects of T. crassiceps metacestode infection or T. crassiceps metacestode factor (MF) treatment on mouse hippocampal cells were studied; control mice were included. At 45 days after infection or treatment of the mice with MF, all mice were anaesthetized and perfused transcardially with saline followed by phosphate-buffered 10% formalin. Then the brains were carefully removed. Coronal sections stained using several techniques were analysed. Extensive and significant apoptosis was found in the experimental animals, mainly in the dentate gyrus, CA1, CA2, CA3 and neighbouring regions, in comparison with the apparently intact cells from control mice (P < 0.01). These results suggest that neurological deficits, especially the learning and memory deficits, may be generated by extensive apoptosis of hippocampal cells.