Objective. The existence of an upper threshold in electrically stimulated retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) is of interest because of its relevance to the development of visual prosthetic devices, which are designed to restore partial sight to blind patients. The upper threshold is defined as the stimulation level above which no action potentials (direct spikes) can be elicited in electrically stimulated retina. Approach. We collected and analyzed in vitro recordings from rat RGCs in response to extracellular biphasic (anodic-cathodic) pulse stimulation of varying amplitudes and pulse durations. Such responses were also simulated using a multicompartment model. Main results. We identified the individual cell variability in response to stimulation and the phenomenon known as upper threshold in all but one of the recorded cells (n=20/21). We found that the latencies of spike responses relative to stimulus amplitude had a characteristic U-shape. In silico, we showed that the upper threshold phenomenon was observed only in the soma. For all tested biphasic pulse durations, electrode positions, and pulse amplitudes above lower threshold, a propagating action potential was observed in the distal axon. For amplitudes above the somatic upper threshold, the axonal action potential back-propagated in the direction of the soma, but the soma's low level of hyperpolarization prevented action potential generation in the soma itself. Significance. An upper threshold observed in the soma does not prevent spike conductance in the axon.