A hallmark of glaucomatous optic nerve damage is retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death. RGCs, like other central nervous system neurons, have a limited capacity to survive or regenerate an axon after injury. Strategies that prevent or slow down RGC degeneration, in combination with intraocular pressure management, may be beneficial to preserve vision in glaucoma. Recent progress in neurobiological research has led to a better understanding of the molecular pathways that regulate the survival of injured RGCs. Here we discuss a variety of experimental strategies including intraocular delivery of neuroprotective molecules, viral-mediated gene transfer, cell implants and stem cell therapies, which share the ultimate goal of promoting RGC survival after optic nerve damage. The challenge now is to assess how this wealth of knowledge can be translated into viable therapies for the treatment of glaucoma and other optic neuropathies.