Central corneal thickness (CCT) of normal and oedematous corneae was measured in a study comparing a modified Haag-Streit optical pachometer and an ultrasonic pachometer (Teknar Ophthasonic, preset velocity 1630 m/s). Sixty-eight patients were examined before and after cataract extraction with implantation of an anterior chamber lens. Mean values of CCT before operation were 531 +/- 4.9 (SEM) micron by optical pachometry and 524 +/- 4.7 microns when measured by ultrasound (not significantly different). On the first post-operative day the values were 618 +/- 8.4 and 602 +/- 7.6 microns for optical and ultrasonic measurements, respectively (significantly different, 2P less than 0.001). Correlation analysis showed a high dependence between the methods with coefficients of correlation being 0.955 before and 0.958 after the operation. Linear regression analysis revealed small, but significant differences between the techniques. The difference between the two methods increased with increasing corneal hydration, whereas it could not be ascribed to sex, age, or intraocular pressure. It is concluded that for clinical purposes optical and ultrasonic pachometry techniques are comparable.