The aim of this study is to study the damage effects of chronic hypoxia on medulla oblongata and to explore whether the damage is associated with oxidative stress and cell apoptosis. Adult male SD rats were randomly divided into two groups: control group and chronic hypoxia group. Medulla oblongata was obtained for the following methods of analyses. Nissl's staining was used to examine the Niss bodies of neurons in medullary respiratory related nuclei, biochemistry methods were utilized to examine oxidant stress damage induced by chronic hypoxia on medulla oblongata through measuring malondialdehyde (MDA) content and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and RT-PCR technique was used to study the influence of apoptosis induced by chronic hypoxia on medulla oblongata through analyzing the levels of Bax mRNA and Bcl-2 mRNA. The results showed the optical densities of Nissl's staining in pre-BötC, NA, NTS, FN, and 12N were significantly decreased in chronic hypoxia group in comparison with that in control group (P < 0.05). In chronic hypoxia group, MDA level was significantly higher than that in the control group (P < 0.05), whereas SOD level had no significant difference between the two groups (P > 0.05). Bax mRNA expression had no obvious change and Bcl-2 mRNA expression significantly decreased in chronic hypoxia group in comparison with that in control group (P < 0.05). The results suggest that chronic hypoxia could bring about serious damage to medullary respiratory centers through aggravating oxidative stress and increasing cell apoptosis.