The calcium-stimulated adenylate cyclase 1 (AC1) has been shown to be required for the refinement of the retinotopic map, but the mechanisms involved are not known. To investigate this question, we devised a retinotectal coculture preparation that reproduces the gradual acquisition of topographic specificity along the rostrocaudal axis of the superior colliculus (SC). Temporal retinal axons invade the entire SC at 4 d in vitro (DIV) and eliminate exuberant branches caudally by 12 DIV. Temporal and nasal axons form branches preferentially in the rostral or caudal SC, respectively. Retinal explants from AC1-deficient mice, AC1(brl/brl), maintain exuberant branches and lose the regional selectivity of branching when confronted with wild-type (WT) SC. Conversely, WT retinas correctly target AC1(brl/brl) collicular explants. The effects of AC1 loss of function in the retina are mimicked by the blockade of ephrin-A5 signaling in WT cocultures. Video microscopic analyses show that AC1(brl/brl) axons have modified responses to ephrin-A5: the collapse of the growth cones occurs, but the rearward movement of the axon is arrested. Our results demonstrate a presynaptic, cell autonomous role of AC1 in the retina and further indicate that AC1 is necessary to enact a retraction response of the retinal axons to ephrin-A5 during the refinement of the retinotopic map.