Sevoflurane is generally considered a pro-apoptotic agent in the neonatal brain. However, recent studies have suggested that low levels of sevoflurane anesthesia may be neuroprotective and have a memory enhancing effect. The present study aimed to investigate whether sevoflurane exerts a neuroprotective effect at subclinical concentrations, with regard to oxidative state. In the current study, postnatal day 7 (P7) Sprague-Dawley rats were continuously exposed to 0.3, 1.3, or 2.3% sevoflurane for 6 h. ELISA was used to quantify the levels of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase (GSH-px) and malondialdehyde (MDA) in the plasma and the hippocampus. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl-transferase dUTP nick-end labeling staining was used to observe hippocampal neuronal apoptosis. Altered object exploration tests for recognition memory were employed to investigate long-term behavioral effects at postnatal day 28. The results demonstrated that a single 6 h exposure to a subclinical concentration (1.3%) of sevoflurane at P7 reduces MDA and GPH-px production in rats. Sevoflurane induced hippocampal apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner and altered recognition memory testing indicated no differences among the groups. Although early exposure to a subclinical concentration of sevoflurane reduced oxidative stress, it did not prevent the process of sevoflurane-induced hippocampal apoptosis. These changes did not affect subsequent recognition memory in juvenile rats.