Our previous studies have shown that Uncaria rhynchophylla (UR) can reduce epileptic seizures. We hypothesized that UR and its major component rhynchophylline (RH), reduce epileptic seizures in rats treated with kainic acid (KA) by inhibiting nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and activator-protein-1 (AP-1) activity, and by eliminating superoxide anions. Therefore, the level of superoxide anions and the DNA binding activities of NF-kappaB and AP-1 were measured. Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were pre-treated with UR (1.0 g/kg, i.p.), RH (0.25 mg/kg, i.p.), or valproic acid (VA, 250 mg/kg, i.p.) for 3 days and then KA was administered intra-peritoneal (i.p.). The results indicated that UR, RH, and VA can reduce epileptic seizures and the level of superoxide anions in the blood. Furthermore, KA was demonstrated to induce the DNA binding activities of NF-kappaB and AP-1. However, these inductions were inhibited by pre-treatment with UR, RH, or VA for 3 days. Moreover, UR and RH were shown to be involved in the suppression of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation. This study suggested that UR and RH have antiepileptic effects in KA-induced seizures and are associated with the regulation of the innate immune system via a reduction in the level of superoxide anions, JNK phosphorylation, and NF-kappaB activation.