delta 8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 8-THC), a known antiglaucoma lipophilic drug, was incorporated in a submicron emulsion for ocular administration. The mean droplet size of the emulsion was 130 +/- 41 nm, and no droplet was larger than 400 nm. No change in pH, particle size distribution or zeta potential was noted after sterilization by steam autoclaving or long-term storage over 9 months. An intense and long-lasting intraocular pressure (IOP)-depressant effect was observed after ocular application (50 microliters) of the THC emulsion, 0.4% (w/w), to rabbits with ocular hypertension (chymotrypsin model). Lesser effects were observed in normotensive rabbits. No irritation effect of either the emulsion vehicle or THC emulsion on the rabbit eyes was detected. These results underline the promising properties of submicron emulsions as vehicles for lipophilic ophthalmic drugs. The mechanism by which the emulsion induced the marked delta 8-THC antiglaucoma effect remains unclear. However, the possible involvement of delta 8-THC systemic absorption in the hypotensive effect induced by the emulsion cannot be excluded and will be the subject of further investigation.