In mature mammals, optic nerve injury results in apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells. The literature confirms that lens injury enhances retinal ganglion cells survival, but the mechanism is not very clear. Using silver staining method and computer image analysis techniques, the effect of alpha-crystallin, a major component of the lens in the survival of retinal ganglion cell axons, was investigated in vivo after intravitreal injections. The results showed that enhanced survival of axotomized axons was observed beyond the crush site after a single intravitreal administration of alpha-crystallin at the time of axotomy. Axonal density of the retinal ganglion cell was significantly greater than in the untreated controls until 2 weeks after injection. This effect declined by 4 weeks after injection but survival of axons remained greater than controls. These findings indicate that alpha-crystallin plays a key role in protecting axons after optic nerve injury.