Vertebrate retinas contain two types of light-detecting cells. Rods subserve vision in dim light, while cones provide color vision in bright light. Both contain light-sensitive proteins called opsins. The light-absorbing chromophore in most opsins is 11-cis-retinaldehyde, which is isomerized to all-trans-retinaldehyde by absorption of a photon. Restoration of light sensitivity requires chemical re-isomerization of retinaldehyde by an enzymatic pathway called the visual cycle in the retinal pigment epithelium. The isomerase in this pathway uses all-trans-retinyl esters synthesized by lecithin retinol acyl transferase (LRAT) as the substrate. Several lines of evidence suggest that cone opsins regenerate by a different mechanism. Here we demonstrate the existence of two catalytic activities in chicken retinas. The first is an isomerase activity that effects interconversion of all-trans-retinol and 11-cis-retinol. The second is an ester synthase that effects palmitoyl coenzyme A-dependent synthesis of all-trans- and 11-cis-retinyl esters. Kinetic analysis of these two activities suggests that they act in concert to drive the formation of 11-cis-retinoids in chicken retinas. These activities may be part of a new visual cycle for the regeneration of chromophores in cones.