Investigating neuronal and photoreceptor regeneration in the retina of zebrafish has begun to yield insights into both the cellular and molecular means by which this lower vertebrate is able to repair its central nervous system. However, knowledge about the signaling molecules in the local microenvironment of a retinal injury and the transcriptional events they activate during neuronal death and regeneration is still lacking. To identify genes involved in photoreceptor regeneration, we combined light-induced photoreceptor lesions, laser-capture microdissection (LCM) of the outer nuclear layer (ONL) and analysis of gene expression to characterize transcriptional changes for cells in the ONL as photoreceptors die and are regenerated. Using this approach, we were able to characterize aspects of the molecular signature of injured and dying photoreceptors, cone photoreceptor progenitors and microglia within the ONL. We validated changes in gene expression and characterized the cellular expression for three novel, extracellular signaling molecules that we hypothesize are involved in regulating regenerative events in the retina.