Reactive gliosis is a response noted after nearly every type of CNS injury and involves both activated microglia and astroglia. Although many investigators believe that reactive glia in some way regulate the survival of injured neurons, the influence of glial elements upon damaged neural tissues remains uncertain. To examine relationships between reactive glia and neurons, secretion products from both microglia and astroglia are tested for their effects upon the survival of cultured neurons. Microglia are found to secrete neurotoxic agents, while astroglia are a source of neuronotrophic factors. Similar patterns of soluble factor production are noted for astroglia-rich or microglia-rich regions of rat neocortex damaged by ischemia. These observations suggest that microglia and astroglia compete for control of neuronal survival. Importantly, microglial neurotoxins might hinder the recovery of neurologic function at sites of inflammation.