This study investigates the effect of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) on blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity during traumatic brain injury (TBI) in rats. Evans blue (EB) and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) were used as determinants of BBB permeability. Glutathione (GSH) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels *ere estimated in the right (injury side) cerebral cortex of animals. The gene expression levels for occludin, glucose transporter (Glut)-1, aquaporin4 (AQP4) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappa B) were performed, and Glut-1 and NF-kappa B activities were analyzed. BHB treatment decreased GSH and MDA levels in intact animals and in those exposed to TBI (P<0.05). Glut-1 protein levels decreased in sham, BHB and TBI plus BHB groups (P<0.05). NF-kappa B protein levels increased in animals treated with BHB and/or exposed to TBI (P <0.05). The expression levels of occludin and AQP4 did not significantly change among experimental groups. Glut-1 expression levels increased in BHB treated and untreated animals exposed to TBI (P <0.05). While NF-kappa B expression levels increased in animals in TBI (P<0.01), a decrease was noticed in these animals upon BHB treatment (P <0.01). In animals exposed to TBI, EB extravasation was observed in the ipsilateral cortex regardless of BHB treatment. Ultrastructurally, BHB attenuated but did not prevent the presence of HRP in brain capillary endothelial cells of animals with TBI; moreover, the drug also led to the observation of the tracer when used in intact rats (P <0.01). Altogether, these results showed that BHB not only failed to provide overall protective effects on BBB in TBI but also led to BBB disruption in healthy animals. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.