The steady-state accommodative responses of emmetropes and late-onset myopes was measured for an array of numbers located at -1, -3 and -5 dioptres using an objective infra-red optometer. Responses were compared for passive (reading numbers) and active (adding numbers) conditions. For the passive condition, the late-onset myopes showed a significantly lower accommodative response than the emmetropic group. No significant differences were found between the two groups for the active condition. Ocular biometric characteristics were also measured in emmetropes, late-onset myopes and early-onset myopes using keratometry and ultrasonography. No significant differences in corneal curvature, anterior chamber depth and crystalline lens thickness were found between the groups. Late-onset myopes exhibited significantly deeper vitreous chambers than emmetropes, which more than accounted for the difference in refractive error between the two refractive groups. We conclude that, while significant differences exist in the accommodative responses of late-onset myopes and emmetropes, late-onset myopia is due predominantly to elongation of the vitreous chamber.