Damage to the central nervous system (CNS) is always followed by an irreversible axon degeneration of injured neurons. The purine nucleoside inosine has been shown to induce neurons to regenerate axons in culture and in vivo. In the present study, we investigated the in vivo effects of inosine on the axon regeneration of axotomized retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in adult rats, using the model of peripheral nerve (PN) grafting onto the ocular stump of the transected optic nerve. Animals were allowed to survive for 4 weeks after surgery with repeated intraperitoneal injections of inosine 1 day before PN grafting till they were killed. Treatment with inosine induced a significant increase (62%) in the number of FluroGold -labeled RGCs regrowing their axons into the PN graft, when compared with the control animals. The axon outgrowth-promoting effect of inosine in adult rodents may represent a potential clinical treatment for injured or degenerated CNS.