Front-face fluorometry of the axial fluorescence profile of the lens is influenced by attenuation of light along the optical pathways leading to and from the detection volume. The resulting distortion is evident when the curve is compared with the intrinsic profile that can be recorded by direct measurement on the transected lens. Assuming that attenuation of light by scatter and absorption is proportional to fluorescence, the intrinsic profile can be reconstructed from the non-invasive fluorescence profile. The calculations involve the deduction of total lens transmittance and fluorescence-related absorptivity, parameters that provide essential information about the optical quality of the lens. The method was applied to human lens fluorometry in vivo and in vitro (excitation 430-490 nm, fluorescence 530-630 nm). Even the most anterior lens fluorescence measurements were found to be markedly affected by attenuation of light in the lens. Lens transmittance estimates agreed within +/- 12% with direct measurements of lens transmittance. The differences were due in part to inter-individual variations in the shape of the intrinsic fluorescence profile of the lens.