Glufosinate is a common herbicide with neurotoxic effects, leading to seizures, convulsions and memory loss. Glufosinate indirectly induces glutamate toxicity by inhibiting glutamine synthesis in astrocytes. Here, we studied the acute toxic effects of a glufosinate-based herbicide in rat optic nerve at three doses (40, 80 or 120 mu M, equal to 714 or 21 mg/kg bw/day). Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), urea, glucose, calcium, as well as creatinine concentrations were analyzed after 24, 48 and 72 h treatment. Intraocular pressure (IOP) (expressed as the average of both eyes) was measured with a rebound tonometer. Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and c-Fos expression were determined by immunohistochemistry. The results established that the glufosinate-based herbicide significantly increased IL-1 beta and c-Fos immunopositivity in the optic nerve (p < 0.05), concomitant with increased IOP. These results suggest that commercial formulations of glufosinate acutely affect the optic nerve.