Omentin is a novel adipokine, which is expressed in and released from omental adipose tissue. In the present study, the effect of omentin on neural stem cells (NSCs) was investigated. NSCs are a subtype of stem cell in the nervous system, which are able to self‑renew and generate neurons and glia for repairing neural lesions. Mouse NSCs were isolated and cultured in vitro. Treatment with recombinant omentin for 3 and 5 days significantly increased the size of NSC neurospheres (P<0.01) and enhanced NSC cell viability in normal conditions. In addition, omentin protected against the decrease in cell viability induced by the pro‑inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor‑α. In the NSCs, incubation of omentin for 2, 4, 6, 8 and 16 h enhanced the phosphorylation of Akt at the Thr308 site and of AS160 at the Ser318 site, peaking 6 h after treatment. Additionally, treatment with LY294002 (10 µM), a specific inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3‑kinase/Akt signaling, eliminated the omentin‑induced increase in neurosphere size and cell viability. Overall, the present study provided the first evidence, to the best of our knowledge, that omentin promotes the growth and survival of NSCs in vitro through activation of the Akt signaling pathway. These results may contribute to the understanding of the role of omentin in the nervous system.