A preferential loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) is observed in glaucoma and optic neuritis. Loss of tropomyosin-related kinase receptor B (TrkB)-mediated signaling has been implicated in this degeneration. Our study indicates that 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8 DHF) robustly upregulates the TrkB signaling in the primary rat RGCs and the retinal neuronal precursor RGC-5 cell line by promoting phosphorylation of TrkB receptor, leading to enhanced TrkB receptor tyrosine kinase activity. The flavonoid derivative 7,8 DHF acts a potent TrkB agonist and upregulates the downstream AKT and MAPK/ERK survival signaling pathways in a TrkB-dependent manner in both primary rat RGCs as well as the RGC-5 cell line. Excitotoxicity and oxidative injury have been alleged in the specific RGC degeneration in various forms of glaucoma. A novel finding of this study is that treatment with 7,8 DHF protects these cells significantly from excitotoxic and oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and cell death. 7,8 DHF also promotes neuritogenesis by stimulating neurite outgrowth, suggesting a possible therapeutic strategy for protection of RGCs in various optic neuropathies.