The ability of fish retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to regenerate their axons was shown to require the re-expression and function of the two proteins reggie-1 and -2. RGCs in mammals fail to upregulate reggie expression and to regenerate axons after lesion suggesting the possibility that induced upregulation might promote regeneration. In the present study, RGCs in adult rats were induced to express reggie-1 by intravitreal injection of adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV2/1) expressing reggie-1 (AAV.R1-EGFP) 14d prior to optic nerve crush. Four weeks later, GAP-43-positive regenerating axons had crossed the lesion and grown into the nerve at significantly higher numbers and length (up to 5mm) than the control transduced with AAV.EGFP. Consistently, after transduction with AAV.R1-EGFP as opposed to AAV.EGFP, primary RGCs in vitro grew long axons on chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG) and Nogo-A, both glial cell-derived inhibitors of neurite growth, suggesting that reggie-1 can provide neurons with the ability to override inhibitors of neurite growth. This reggie-1-mediated enhancement of growth was reproduced in mouse hippocampal and N2a neurons which generated axons 40-60% longer than their control counterparts. This correlates with the reggie-1-dependent activation of Src and PI3 kinase (PI3K), of the Rho family GTPase Rac1 and downstream effectors such as cofilin. This increased growth also depends on TC10, the GTPase involved in cargo delivery to the growth cone. Thus, the upregulation of reggie-1 in mammalian neurons provides nerve cells with neuron-intrinsic properties required for axon growth and successful regeneration in the adult mammalian CNS.