Taurine is involved in cell volume homeostasis, antioxidant defense, protein stabilization, and stress responses. High levels of intracellular taurine are maintained by a Na+-dependent taurine transporter (TAUT) in the plasma membrane. In view of the immunomodulatory and cytoprotective effects of taurine, a mouse model with a disrupted gene coding for the taurine transporter (taut-/- mice) was generated. These mice show markedly decreased taurine levels in a variety of tissues, a reduced fertility, and loss of vision due to severe retinal degeneration. In particular, the retinal involvement identifies the taurine transporter as an important factor for the development and maintenance of normal retinal functions and morphology.