Antineoplastic drugs such as oxaliplatin (OXA) often induce memory and emotional deficits. At present, the mechanisms underlying these side-effects are not fully understood, and no effective treatment is available. Here, we show that the short-term memory deficits and anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors induced by intraperitoneal injections of OXA (4 mg/kg per day for 5 consecutive days) were accompanied by synaptic dysfunction and downregulation of the NR2B subunit of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in the hippocampus, which is critically involved in memory and emotion. The OXA-induced behavioral and synaptic changes were prevented by chronic oral administration of magnesium-L-threonate (L-TAMS, 604 mg/kg per day, from 2 days before until the end of experiments). We found that OXA injections significantly reduced the free Mg in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (from ~ 0.8 mmol/L to ~ 0.6 mmol/L). The Mg deficiency (0.6 mmol/L) upregulated tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) and phospho-p65 (p-p65), an active form of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), and downregulated the NR2B subunit in cultured hippocampal slices. Oral L-TAMS prevented the OXA-induced upregulation of TNF-α and p-p65, as well as microglial activation in the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex. Finally, similar to oral L-TAMS, intracerebroventricular injection of PDTC, an NF-κB inhibitor, also prevented the OXA-induced memory/emotional deficits and the changes in TNF-α, p-p65, and microglia. Taken together, the activation of TNF-α/NF-κB signaling resulting from reduced brain Mg is responsible for the memory/emotional deficits induced by OXA. Chronic oral L-TAMS may be a novel approach to treating chemotherapy-induced memory/emotional deficits.