Neuritin 1 (Nrn1) is an extracellular glycophosphatidylinositol-linked protein that stimulates axonal plasticity, dendritic arborization and synapse maturation in the central nervous system (CNS). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the neuroprotective and axogenic properties of Nrn1 on axotomized retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in vitro and on the in vivo optic nerve crush (ONC) mouse model. Axotomized cultured RGCs treated with recombinant hNRN1 significantly increased survival of RGCs by 21% (n=6-7, Po0.01) and neurite outgrowth in RGCs by 141% compared to controls (n=15, Po0.05). RGC transduction with AAV2-CAG- hNRN1 prior to ONC promoted RGC survival (450%, n=3-7, Po0.05) and significantly preserved RGC function by 70% until 28 days post crush (dpc) (n=6, Po0.05) compared with the control AAV2-CAG-green fluorescent protein transduction group. Significantly elevated levels of RGC marker, RNA binding protein with multiple splicing (Rbpms; 73%, n=5-8, Po0.001) and growth cone marker, growth-associated protein 43 (Gap43; 36%, n=3, Po0.01) were observed 28 dpc in the retinas of the treatment group compared with the control group. Significant increase in Gap43 (100%, n=5-6, Po0.05) expression was observed within the optic nerves of the AAV2-hNRN1 group compared to controls. In conclusion, Nrn1 exhibited neuroprotective, regenerative effects and preserved RGC function on axotomized RGCs in vitro and after axonal injury in vivo. Nrn1 is a potential therapeutic target for CNS neurodegenerative diseases.