Altering the balance of activity between the two eyes during the critical period for visual-system development profoundly affects competitive interactions among neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus and primary visual cortex. Neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus that are deprived of activity by closing or silencing one eye atrophy as a result of competition with non-deprived neurons for some critical factor(s) presumed to be present in the cortex. Based on their actions in the developing visual system, neurotrophins are attractive candidates for such factors. We tested whether neurotrophins mediate intracortical competition of afferents from the lateral geniculate nucleus by using monocular deprivation and a new method for highly localized, in vivo delivery of neurotrophins. This method allowed unambiguous identification of neurons that were exposed to neurotrophin. Here we report that only one neurotrophin, the TrkB ligand NT-4, rescued neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus from the dystrophic effects of monocular deprivation.