Sevoflurane is a widely used anaesthetic agent, including in anaesthesia of children and infants. Recent studies indicated that the general anaesthesia might cause the cell apoptosis in the brain. This issue raises the concerns about the neuronal toxicity induced by the application of anaesthetic agents, especially in the infants and young children. In this study, we used Morris water maze, western blotting and immunohistochemistry to elucidate the role of α-lipoic acid in the inhibition of neuronal apoptosis. We found that sevoflurane led to the long-term cognitive impairment in the young rats. This adverse effect may be caused by the neuronal death in the hippocampal region, mediated through PI3K/Akt signalling pathway. We also showed that α-lipoic acid offset the effect of sevoflurane on the neuronal apoptosis and cognitive dysfunction. This study elucidated the potential clinical role of α-lipoic acid, providing a promising way in the prevention and treatment of long-term cognitive impairment induced by sevoflurane general anesthesia.