The histopathology of eyes with uveal melanoma was compared in a masked fashion in 47 eyes whose primary treatment was enucleation and a matched series of 47 eyes enucleated after proton beam irradiation. Irradiated tumors were more likely to show signs of necrosis (P less than .001) and fibrosis (P = .005) and to have balloon cells present (P = .002). In the irradiated group, mitotic figures were fewer in 40 high-power fields (P = .020), and the prevalence of tumor blood vessel damage (P less than .001) was higher. Changes in the retina were more common in the irradiated series, but damage was usually overlying or in close proximity to the tumor. Based on characteristic changes, the pathologist distinguished irradiated from nonirradiated eyes in 85% of the cases. These findings suggest that irradiation damages tumor cells and blood vessels, and alters the tumor's capacity for cellular reproduction.