Reductions in metabolism and excess oxidative stress are prevalent in multiple neurodegenerative diseases. The activity of the mitochondrial enzyme α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (KGDHC) appears central to these abnormalities. KGDHC is diminished in multiple neurodegenerative diseases. KGDHC can not only be rate limiting for NADH production and for substrate level phosphorylation, but is also a source of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The goal of these studies was to determine how changes in KGDHC modify baseline ROS, the ability to buffer ROS, baseline glutathionylation, calcium modulation and cell death in response to external oxidants. In vivo, reducing KGDHC with adeno virus diminished neurogenesis and increased oxidative stress. In vitro, treatments of short duration increased ROS and glutathionylation and enhanced the ability of the cells to diminish the ROS from added oxidants. However, long-term reductions lessened the ability to diminish ROS, diminished glutathionylation and exaggerated oxidant-induced changes in calcium and cell death. Increasing KGDHC enhanced the ability of the cells to diminish externally added ROS and protected against oxidant-induced changes in calcium and cell death. The results suggest that brief periods of diminished KGDHC are protective, while prolonged reductions are harmful. Furthermore, elevated KGDHC activities are protective. Thus, mitogenic therapies that increase KGDHC may be beneficial in neurodegenerative diseases. Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on Page 689.