To determine whether optic nerve myelin of goldfish carries mammalian- like neurite growth inhibitory proteins which can be neutralized by the antibody IN-1, myelin fractions of fish optic nerves were used as substrates for fish retinal ganglion cell axons and rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Axonal growth was monitored and compared with that of IN- 1 treated preparations. Growth of fish retinal axons and rat DRG neurites was substantial on goldfish optic nerve myelin and no improvement was observed with IN-1. In contrast, rat CNS myelin allowed only poor growth, and number of axons and length of DRG neurites increased significantly with IN-1. In addition, proteins of fish optic nerve myelin and bovine CNS myelin were extracted, reconstituted in liposomes and applied to growth cones. When goldfish myelin proteins in liposomes were seeded onto growth cones, 77% of fish and 89% of rat DRG growth cones continued to elongate, and the proportion of elongating fish growth cones (80%) did not significantly change when liposomes were pretreated with IN-1. But 73% of fish and 93% of rat growth cones collapsed with liposomes containing proteins from bovine CNS myelin. Upon IN-1 treatment, only 24% of fish growth cones collapsed. Thus, axon growth in vitro indicates that goldfish optic nerves, which permit successful axon regeneration in vivo, lack mammalian-like neurite growth inhibitors which are neutralized by IN-1.