The balance between proliferation and apoptosis is critical for proper development of the nervous system. Yet, little is known about molecules that regulate apoptosis of proliferative neurons. Here we identify a soluble, secreted form of CPG15 expressed in embryonic rat brain regions undergoing rapid proliferation and apoptosis, and show that it protects cultured cortical neurons from apoptosis by preventing activation of caspase 3. Using a lentivirus-delivered small hairpin RNA, we demonstrate that endogenous CPG15 is essential for the survival of undifferentiated cortical progenitors in vitro and in vivo. We further show that CPG15 overexpression in vivo expands the progenitor pool by preventing apoptosis, resulting in an enlarged, indented cortical plate and cellular heterotopias within the ventricular zone, similar to the phenotypes of mutant mice with supernumerary forebrain progenitors. CPG15 expressed during mammalian forebrain morphogenesis may help balance neuronal number by countering apoptosis in specific neuroblasts subpopulations, thus influencing final brain size and shape.