The generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells holds great promise in regenerative medicine. The use of the transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc for reprogramming is extensively documented, but comparatively little is known about soluble molecules promoting reprogramming. Here we identify the secreted cue Netrin-1 and its receptor DCC, described for their respective survival/death functions in normal and oncogenic contexts, as reprogramming modulators. In various somatic cells, we found that reprogramming is accompanied by a transient transcriptional repression of Netrin-1 mediated by an Mbd3/Mta1/Chd4-containing NuRD complex. Mechanistically, Netrin-1 imbalance induces apoptosis mediated by the receptor DCC in a p53-independent manner. Correction of the Netrin-1/DCC equilibrium constrains apoptosis and improves reprogramming efficiency. Our work also sheds light on Netrin-1's function in protecting embryonic stem cells from apoptosis mediated by its receptor UNC5b, and shows that the treatment with recombinant Netrin-1 improves the generation of mouse and human iPS cells.