Following acute brain injury, albumin may gain access to the brain parenchyma. Clinical studies indicate a protective role for albumin in stroke but an increase in mortality associated with albumin administration following traumatic brain injury. We investigated the effects of albumin on astrocyte and microglial activation, and the role of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) in these responses. Albumin activated ERK1/2, p38 MAPK and JNK signaling pathways in astrocytes, and induced the production of interleukin (IL)-1beta, inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase, the NO metabolite nitrite, and the chemokine CX3CL1 while reducing the level of S100B. The release of inflammatory markers by astrocytes was partially dependent on p38 MAPK and ERK1/2 pathways, but not JNK. In microglia, albumin exposure activated all three MAPK pathways and produced an increase in IL-1beta and nitrite. Inhibition of p38 MAPK in microglia leads to an increased level of IL1beta, while inhibition of all three MAPKs suppressed the release of nitrite. These results suggest that albumin activates astrocytes and microglia, inducing inflammatory responses involved both in the mechanisms of cellular injury and repair via activation of MAPK pathways, and thereby implicate glial activation in the clinical responses to administration of albumin.