Bright cyclic light rearing protects BALB/c mice from light-induced photoreceptor apoptosis compared to dim cyclic light rearing. We used a microarray approach to search for putative neuroprotection genes that were up- or down-regulated under these environmental conditions. Retinal protection by bright cyclic rearing was determined by quantitative histology and DNA fragmentation analysis. Total RNA was isolated from 5-week-old mice raised in bright (400 lux) or dim (5 lux) cyclic light and prepared for analysis on microarrays produced using a 70-mer oligonucleotide library that represented 16,463 mouse genes. Genes of interest were identified using statistically robust bioinformatics analysis methods that were developed in-house. Changes in some genes were confirmed with quantitative real time PCR. We found that 952 genes were up- or down-regulated by bright cyclic light rearing compared to dim cyclic light rearing. One hundred and eighty-four of them, having >/=2-fold differences, were grouped into 13 categories, and selected for further consideration. Eleven up-regulated and two down-regulated genes were confirmed by semi-quantitative PCR. Five neuroprotection-associated genes were up-regulated by bright cyclic light rearing as confirmed by real-time PCR. The human orthologue chromosomal location of 22 differentially expressed genes map to known retinal degeneration loci. Using PathwayAssist software, we modeled the pathway networks of up- and down-regulated genes that are functionally related to the retina. We identified retinal genes that are differentially regulated by environmental light history. Those that directly affect cell processes such as survival, apoptosis, and transcription are likely play a pivotal role in the regulation of retinal neuroprotection against light-induced photoreceptor apoptosis.