The goldfish visual pathway displays a remarkable capacity for continued development and plasticity. The intermediate filament proteins in this pathway are unexpected and atypical, suggesting these proteins provide a structure that supports growth and plasticity. Using a goldfish retina lambda gt10 library, we have isolated a full-length cDNA clone that encodes a novel type III intermediate filament protein. The mRNA for this protein is located in retinal ganglion cells, and its level dramatically increases during optic nerve regeneration. The protein is transported into the optic nerve within the slow phase of axonal transport. We have named this protein plasticin because it was isolated from a neuronal pathway well known for its plasticity.