To determine whether neurturin (NTN), a recently identified homologue of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), is able to preserve tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity (TH-IR) in a rat model of Parkinson's disease, polymer encapsulated cells genetically engineered to release NTN were implanted near the substantia nigra 1 week before a unilateral medial forebrain bundle axotomy. Animals were allowed to survive for 1 week post-axotomy. Upon sacrifice, animals that received a NTN capsule had a significantly higher percentage of TH-IR (lesioned side vs non-lesioned side) than animals that had received a capsule containing non-transfected parent cells. However, in contrast to GDNF, no reduction of turning was observed upon amphetamine rotation with NTN. Nevertheless, these results suggest that NTN might have a therapeutic value for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.