A method is described for the separate quantitation of fluorescein and fluorescein glucuronide in the vitreous by differential spectrofluorometry. An ocular fluorometer was equipped with monochromatic laser excitation at two rapidly interchangeable wavelengths. The data analysis accounts for absorption of light in the cornea, lens, and extrinsic ocular fluorophores. Examination of seven patients with insulin-dependent diabetes and different degrees of diabetic retinopathy demonstrated that both fluorescein and fluorescein glucuronide enter the eye through the blood-retina barrier. The mean ratio between the permeabilities of fluorescein glucuronide and fluorescein was 0.9 (range, 0.3-1.9). Thus, differences in the molecular size and lipid solubility of the two substances appear to be of little or no importance for their inward penetration of the barrier. No association was found between the relative permeability and the degree of retinopathy.