A multicenter prospective trial was conducted comparing preoperative and postoperative endothelial cell counts in patients who had extracapsular cataract extraction with posterior chamber lens implantation or phacoemulsification and posterior chamber lens implantation. One hundred sixty six eyes received 2% hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (Occucoat) and 56 eyes received sodium hyaluronate (Healon). The average cell loss in the Occucoat group was 12.1%; in the Healon group it was 10% (P = NS). There was no significant difference between the two groups in intraocular pressure at 24 hours. In this study Occucoat was as effective in protecting the corneal endothelium as Healon.