Seroepidemiological, clinical and virological studies were carried out in an HTLV-I endemic area to find out if HTLV-I caused an intraocular inflammatory disorder, uveitis. The seroprevalence in patients with uveitis without defined etiologies (62/175, 35.4%) was significantly higher than that in patients with non-uveitic ocular diseases (42/261, 16.1%) or in patients with uveitis with defined etiologies (8/78, 10.3%). Moreover, the seroprevalence in young adults (20-49 years) with uveitis without defined etiologies was 30/67 (44.8%), whereas it was only 10/107 (9.3%) in the other two groups. The uveitis in HTLV-I carriers was characterized clinically by a moderate inflammation of the vitreous body accompanied by a mild iritis and retinal vasculitis. The proviral DNA of HTLV-I was detected by polymerase chain reaction from the inflammatory cells in the anterior chamber in 9 out of 9 seropositive patients with the uveitis, but not in any of the tested patients with other types of uveitis. These data, thus, indicate that HTLV-I causes a specific type of intraocular inflammation, uveitis.