Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common neurodegenerative disorder, results in progressive degeneration of synapses and aberrant sprouting of axon terminals. The mechanisms underlying these seemingly opposing cellular phenomena are unclear. We hypothesized that Fyn kinase may play a role in one or both of these processes because it is increased in AD brains and because it is involved in synaptic plasticity and axonal outgrowth. We investigated the effects of Fyn on AD-related synaptotoxicity and aberrant axonal sprouting by ablating or overexpressing Fyn in human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP) transgenic mice. On the fyn+/+ background, hAPP/amyloid beta peptide (Abeta) decreased hippocampal levels of synaptophysin-immunoreactive presynaptic terminals (SIPTs), consistent with previous findings. On the fyn-/- background, hAPP/Abeta did not affect SIPTs. SIPT reductions correlated with hippocampal Abeta levels in hAPP/fyn+/+, but not hAPP/fyn-/-, mice suggesting that Fyn provides a critical link between hAPP/Abeta and SIPTs. Furthermore, overexpression of Fyn exacerbated SIPT reductions in hAPP mice. We also found that the susceptibility of mice to hAPP/Abeta-induced premature mortality was decreased by Fyn ablation and increased by Fyn overexpression. In contrast, axonal sprouting in the hippocampus of hAPP mice was unaffected. We conclude that Fyn-dependent pathways are critical in AD-related synaptotoxicity and that the pathogenesis of hAPP/Abeta-induced neuronal alterations may be mechanistically heterogenous.