The pattern recognition receptor toll-like receptor (TLR)-4 mediates innate danger signaling in the brain, being activated in response to lipopolysaccharide. Until now, its role in the degenerating brain remained unknown. We here examined effects of a loss-of-function mutation of TLR-4 in mice submitted to transient focal cerebral ischemia and retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axotomy, which are highly reproducible and clinically relevant in vivo models of acute and subacute neuronal degeneration. We show that TLR-4 deficiency protects mice against ischemia and axotomy-induced RGC degeneration. Decreased phosphorylation levels of the mitogen-activated kinases ERK-1/-2, JNK-1/-2 and p38 together with reduced inducible NO synthase levels in injured neurons of TLR-4 mutant mice suggests that TLR-4 deficiency downscales parenchymal stress responses, thereby enhancing neuronal survival. At the same time, densities of MPO+ neutrophils and Iba1+ microglial cells were increased in the brains of TLR-4 mutant animals, pointing towards a futile inflammatory response aiming to compensate lost functions. Our data indicate that innate immunity may represent an attractive target for neuroprotective treatments in stroke and neurodegeneration.