The water sorptive and retentive capacities of three corneal proteoglycans with different keratan sulfate/chondroitin-4-sulfate compositions were investigated. The calcium salt of a predominantly keratan sulfate containing proteoglycan had hydration properties similar to that of calcium keratan sulfate. The proteoglycan containing predominantly calcium chondroitin-4-sulfate side chains sorbed water to a greater extent than pure calcium chondroitin-4-sulfate but its retentive power was somewhat less. The proteoglycan containing about twice as much keratan sulfate as chondroitin-4-sulfate, on a dissaccharidic molar basis and had hydration properties which were closer to the behavior of chondroitin-4-sulfate than keratan sulfate. The results are discussed in terms of structure and polymer interaction in the proteoglycan matrices.