Norrin is a secreted protein that binds to frizzled 4 and controls development of capillaries in retina and inner ear. We provide evidence that Norrin has distinct neuroprotective properties that are independent from its effects on vascular development. The function of Norrin was investigated in a mouse model of excitotoxic retinal ganglion cell (RGC) damage after intravitreal injection of NMDA, and in cultured Müller glia or immortalized RGC-5 cells. Intravitreal injection of Norrin significantly increased the number of surviving RGC axons in the optic nerve and decreased apoptotic death of retinal neurons following NMDA-mediated damage. This effect could be blocked by adding dickkopf (DKK)-1, an inhibitor of the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway. Treatment of eyes with combined Norrin/NMDA activated Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and increased the retinal expression of leukemia inhibitory factor and endothelin-2, as well as that of neurotrophic growth factors such as fibroblast growth factor-2, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, lens epithelium-derived growth factor, and ciliary neurotrophic factor. A similar activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and an increased expression of neurotrophic factors was observed in cultured Müller cells after treatment with Norrin, effects that again could be blocked by adding DKK-1. In addition, conditioned cell culture medium of Norrin-treated Müller cells increased survival of differentiated RGC-5 cells. We conclude that Norrin has pronounced neuroprotective properties on retinal neurons with the distinct potential to decrease the damaging effects of NMDA-induced RGC loss. The effects of Norrin involve activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and subsequent induction of neurotrophic growth factors in Müller cells.