Purpose: Adenosine can protect retinal ganglion cells from the death that accompanies a general ischemic challenge as well as excitotoxic death. In other tissues, both A(1) and A(3) adenosine receptor subtypes can mediate protection. While a role for the A(1) adenosine receptor in ganglion cell protection has been established, a potential for the A(3) receptor has only recently been proposed. Although the pharmacology is promising, the molecular identity of the responsible receptor is unclear as previous studies were unable to detect message for the A(3) receptor in retinal ganglion cells. We combined laser capture microdisection (LCM) and immunopurification with traditional and real-time PCR to unequivocally demonstrate the presence of the A(3) receptor message in rat retinal ganglion cells.