Myelination in the nervous system is a tightly regulated process that is mediated by both soluble and non-soluble factors acting on axons and glial cells. This process is bi-directional and involves a variety of neurotrophic and gliotrophic factors acting in paracrine and autocrine manners. Neuron-derived trophic factors play an important role in the control of early proliferation and differentiation of myelinating glial cells. At later stages of development, same molecules may play a different role and act as inducers of myelination rather than cell survival signals for myelinating glial cells. In return, myelinating glial cells provide trophic support for axons and protect them from injury. Chronic demyelination leads to secondary axonal degeneration that is responsible for long-term disability in primary demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis and inherited demyelinating peripheral neuropathies. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling myelination may yield novel therapeutic targets for demyelinating nervous system disorders.