To determine diagnostic value of lens opacities in myotonic dystrophy (DM), we examined 98 at-risk members of 9 DM kindreds. Haplotype analysis of restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) using ApoC2, CKMM, and pEFD4.2 supported the diagnosis of DM in 33 and excluded the diagnosis in 51 members. The sensitivities of bilateral iridescent lens opacities, posterior cortical lens opacities, orbicularis oculi weakness, low intraocular pressure, ptosis, and ocular myotonia were 46.7, 50.0, 60.6, 59.3, 51.5, and 3.0%, while their specificities were 100.0, 100.0, 98.0, 94.1, 96.1, and 100.0%, respectively. A peripheral pigmentary degeneration and central macular lesions of retina were not found on indirect fundoscopy. In 86.2% of DM patients, bilateral iridescent lens opacities, posterior cortical lens opacities, or both were present. Unilateral iridescent lens opacities occurred in only 3 of our DM patients, and 2 of non-DM relatives showed a few unilateral iridescent particles. Posterior cortical lens opacities in DM patients always affected both eyes in this series. We conclude that 1) bilateral iridescent lens opacities and posterior cortical lens opacities are highly specific for DM and useful for establishing clinical diagnosis of DM, 2) unilateral iridescent lens opacities are infrequent in DM and are seen in some non-DM members, and 3) ocular myotonia and clinical retinopathies are rare in DM.