Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) improves molecular, cellular, and behavioral measures of neural dysfunction in genetic models of Alzheimer’s disease. However, BDNF treatment after disease onset has not been reported to improve neuronal survival in these models. This study evaluated prevention of neuronal loss with early life BDNF treatment in mutant mice expressingtwo amyloid precursor protein (APP) mutations associated with early-onsetfamilial Alzheimer’s disease. APP transgenic mice underwent lentiviral BDNF gene delivery into the entorhinal cortices at age 2 months and were examined 5 months later. BDNF-treated mice exhibited significant improvements in hippocampal-dependent contextual fear conditioning compared with control treated APP mice (p 0.05). Stereological analysis of entorhinal cortical cell number demonstrated 20% reductions in neuronal number in layers II-VI of the entorhinal cortex in untreated APP mutant mice compared with wild-type mice (p0.0001), and significant amelioration of cell loss by BDNF (p 0.001). Moreover, BDNF gene delivery improved synaptophysin immunoreactivity in the entorhinal cortex and, through anterograde BDNF transport, in the hippocampus (p 0.01). Notably, BDNF did not affect amyloid plaque numbers, indicating that direct amyloid reduction is not necessary to achieve significant neuroprotective benefits in mutant amyloid models of Alzheimer’s disease.