Ultra-violet (UV) radiation (UVR) causes significant oxidative injury to retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. Obacunone is a highly oxygenated triterpenoid limonoid compound with various pharmacological properties. Its potential effect in RPE cells has not been studied thus far. Here in ARPE-19 cells and primary murine RPE cells, obacunone potently inhibited UVR-induced reactive oxygen species accumulation, mitochondrial depolarization, lipid peroxidation and single strand DNA accumulation. UVR-induced RPE cell death and apoptosis were largely alleviated by obacunone. Obacunone activated Nrf2 signaling cascade in RPE cells, causing Keap1-Nrf2 disassociation, Nrf2 protein stabilization and nuclear translocation. It promoted transcription and expression of antioxidant responsive element-dependent genes. Nrf2 silencing or CRISPR/Cas9-induced Nrf2 knockout almost reversed obacunone-induced RPE cytoprotection against UVR. Forced activation of Nrf2 cascade, by Keap1 knockout, similarly protected RPE cells from UVR. Importantly, obacunone failed to offer further RPE cytoprotection against UVR in Keap1-knockout cells. In vivo, intravitreal injection of obacunone largely inhibited light-induced retinal damage. Collectively, obacunone protects RPE cells from UVR-induced oxidative injury through activation of Nrf2 signaling cascade.