Autoantibodies have defined two paraneoplastic visual disorders related to small-cell lung carcinoma: retinopathy ("CAR"-IgG [23kDa, recoverin]) and optic neuritis collapsin response-mediated protein 5 (CRMP-5-IgG [62kDa]). Among 16 patients with CRMP-5-IgG and optic neuritis (aged 52-74 years; all smokers, 9 women), we documented coexisting retinitis in 5. None had CAR-IgG. Fifteen had subacute vision loss, swollen optic discs, and field defects. Vascular leakage was evident at and remote from the disc; 5/5 tested had abnormal electroretinograms. Nine had striking vitreous cells. Vitrectomy showed reactive lymphocytosis (4/4), predominantly CD4(+) (1/1). Most patients had multifocal neurological accompaniments. Cerebrospinal fluid contained lymphocytes (7-32), elevated protein, multiple oligoclonal immunoglobulin bands, and CRMP-5-IgG. Three patients superficially resembled Devic's disease at presentation. One autopsied patient had predominantly CD8(+) T lymphocytes infiltrating optic nerve and spinal cord. Eleven patients had confirmed small-cell carcinoma; 1 had imaging evidence of lung cancer; 3 had renal or thyroid carcinoma. Full-length CRMP-5 protein was identified in normal retina and optic nerve by Western blot analyses. Photoreceptor cells, retinal ganglion cells, and nerve fibers exhibited CRMP-5-specific immunoreactivity. In summary, CRMP-5-IgG defines a paraneoplastic ophthalmological entity of combined optic neuritis and retinitis with vitreous inflammatory cells. Positive serology obviates the need for vitreous biopsy and expedites the search for cancer.