The goldfish visual pathway displays a remarkable capacity for continued development and plasticity. The intermediate filament proteins of this pathway do not match the intermediate filament protein composition of adult higher vertebrate neurons, which lack the capacity for growth and development. Using a goldfish retina lambda gt10 library we isolated cDNA clones representing the predominant goldfish optic nerve neurofilament protein, ON1. The mRNA for this protein is abundant in retinal ganglion cells, and its level increases slowly during optic nerve regeneration. The rate of ON1 mRNA accumulation after optic nerve crush was compared with that of plasticin, a previously described novel type III neurofilament from goldfish retinal ganglion cells. Plasticin mRNA is normally expressed at low steady state levels, but accumulates dramatically and rapidly, preceding gefiltin mRNA, in response to optic nerve crush. The predicted amino acid sequence for ON1 indicates that it is a novel intermediate filament protein. We have named it gefiltin, for goldfish eye intermediate filament protein. The serial expression of plasticin and gefiltin is discussed with respect to the diversity of neurofilament proteins during neurogenesis.