Lowering intraocular pressure in adults with glaucoma may be associated with an improvement in appearance of the optic nerve head. The stage of disease, the amount of intraocular pressure reduction, and the age of the patient probably influence the occurrence of this event. The clinical relevance of "reversal" has not been established with certainty. The reversibility of glaucomatous cupping can be detected by subjective and qualitative means (examination of the patient or of fundus photographs) or by quantitative techniques such as photogrammetry, computerized image analysis, and scanning laser tomography. Clinical and experimental studies are providing new information about the behavior of the optic nerve head tissues in response to changes in intraocular pressure.