Contactin1a (Cntn1a) is a zebrafish homolog of contactin1 (F3/F11/contactin) in mammals, an immunoglobulin superfamily recognition molecule of neurons and oligodendrocytes. We describe conspicuous Cntn1a mRNA expression in oligodendrocytes in the developing optic pathway of zebrafish. In adults, this expression is only retained in glial cells in the intraretinal optic fiber layer, which contains 'loose' myelin. After optic nerve lesion, oligodendrocytes re-express Cntn1a mRNA independently of the presence of regenerating axons and retinal ganglion cells upregulate Cntn1a expression to levels that are significantly higher than those during development. After spinal cord lesion, expression of Cntn1a mRNA is similarly increased in axotomized brainstem neurons and white matter glial cells in the spinal cord. In addition, reduced mRNA expression in the trigeminal/anterior lateral line ganglion in erbb3-deficient mutant larvae implies Cntn1a in Schwann cell differentiation. These complex regulation patterns suggest roles for Cntn1a in myelinating cells and neurons particularly in successful CNS regeneration.