Early brain injury (EBI) refers to the direct injury to the brain during the first 72 h after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is one of the major causes for the poor clinical outcome after SAH. In this study, we investigated the effect and the related mechanism of Salvinorin A (SA), a selective kappa opioid receptor agonist, on EBI after SAH. SA was administered by intraperitoneal injection at 24 h, 48 h and 72 h after SAH. The volume of lateral ventricle was measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The neuronal morphological changes and the apoptotic level in CA1 area of hippocampus were observed by Nissl and TUNEL staining respectively. Protein expression of p-PI3K, p-Akt, p-IKKα/β, p-NF-κB, FoxO1, Bim, Bax and Cleaved-caspase-3 was measured to explore the potential mechanism. We found that SA alleviated the neuronal morphological changes and apoptosis in CA1 area of hippocampus. The mechanism might be related to the increased protein expression of p-PI3K/p-Akt, which accompanied by decreased expression of p-IKKα/β, p-NF-κB, FoxO1, Bim, Bax and Cleaved-caspase-3 in the hippocampus. Thus, therapeutic interventions of SA targeting the PI3K/Akt pathway might be a novel approach to ameliorate EBI via reducing the apoptosis and inflammation after SAH.