Objective: To define the best conditions for amniotic membrane preparation, storage and banking in its use for corneal reconstruction. Methods: Amniotic membrane pieces were prepared under sterile conditions from placentas selected on the basis of donor medical and social history, serology, microbiological tests and histology. The pieces were kept at -140 degrees C but before grafting they were thawed and stored at 4 degrees C in RPMI medium, to have a preparation usable within 72 h. This procedure was validated by testing its therapeutic effectiveness in 25 patients 13 of which had corneal ulcers of various origin, 3 had sequelae of herpes simplex keratitis, 3 band keratopathy and 6 corneal stem cell deficiency due to chemical or thermal burns. Results: The preparation showed appreciable anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. In the absence of corneal stem cell deficiency a stable re-epithelialisation was achieved in 15 out of 19 patients. When the limbus was lesioned, the amniotic membrane decreased vascularization and increased the number of corneal epithelial cells only in 1 of the 6 patients. No adverse reactions attributable to the tissue were recorded. Conclusions: A ready-to-use amniotic membrane preparation stored at 4 degrees C after cryopreservation has been tested in corneal reconstruction. Like the amniotic membrane thawed immediately before grafting, this preparation displayed full therapeutic effect in epithelial defects with stromal ulceration but without severe limbal stem cell deficiency. In two years banking activity 463 pieces of the preparation were successfully distributed to 90 Italian hospitals.