We have investigated and compared the neurotrophic activity of human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSC), human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSC) and human adipose-derived stem cells (hAMSC) on axotomised adult rat retinal ganglion cells (RGC) in vitro in order to evaluate their therapeutic potential for neurodegenerative conditions of RGC. Using the transwell system, RGC survival and length/number of neurites were quantified in coculture with stem cells in the presence or absence of specific Fc-receptor inhibitors to determine the role of NGF, BDNF, NT-3, VEGF, GDNF, PDGF-AA and PDGF-AB/BB in stem cell-mediated RGC neuroprotection and neuritogenesis. Conditioned media, collected from cultured hDPSC/hBMSC/hAMSC, were assayed for the secreted growth factors detailed above using ELISA. PCR array determined the hDPSC, hBMSC and hAMSC expression of genes encoding 84 growth factors and receptors. The results demonstrated that hDPSC promoted significantly more neuroprotection and neuritogenesis of axotomised RGC than either hBMSC or hAMSC, an effect that was neutralized after the addition of specific Fc-receptor inhibitors. hDPSC secreted greater levels of various growth factors including NGF, BDNF and VEGF compared with hBMSC/hAMSC. The PCR array confirmed these findings and identified VGF as a novel potentially therapeutic hDPSC-derived neurotrophic factor (NTF) with significant RGC neuroprotective properties after coculture with axotomised RGC. In conclusion, hDPSC promoted significant multi-factorial paracrine-mediated RGC survival and neurite outgrowth and may be considered a potent and advantageous cell therapy for retinal nerve repair.