Toward a better understanding of light-induced photoreceptor damage, the crystallin content of rat retina was examined following intense light exposure. Nine crystallin species were identified by mass spectrometric analysis of rat retina fractionated by 2D gel electrophoresis. The Coomassie blue staining intensity of all crystallin 2D gel components was 2- to 3-fold greater in light exposed than in control retinas. Following light exposure, anti-alphaB-crystallin immunoreactivity was increased in rod outer segments and retinal pigment epithelium. These findings support a possible role for crystallins in protecting photoreceptors from light damage.