Schwann cells (SCs) are known to play an important role for the regeneration of mammalian peripheral nerves. Their effect is likely due to the production of neuronotrophic and/or supportive factors. Here we study the effect of intraocular transplant of SCs on the survival of rat retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) after the intracranial section of the optic nerve. SCs were injected intraocularly in adult hooded rats. Surviving RGCs were retrogradely labeled with horseradish peroxidase applied to the proximal stump of the optic nerve. Results show that intraocular transplants of SCs promote the survival of a large number of RGCs for periods as long as 9 and 14 weeks after optic nerve section. In experimental retinae, surviving RGCs were 2- to 8-fold more numerous than in controls. This finding suggests that SCs are the source of factors that promote the survival of RGCs. Nerve growth factor is produced by SCs, and the intraocular injection of nerve growth factor has been previously shown to promote RGC survival. The rescuing effect of SCs on RGCs is greater than that obtained by intraocular injection of nerve growth factor. This greater effect may be due to the action of other neurotrophic factors produced by SCs or by transplanted SCs producing NGF in a sustained fashion.