The incidence of culture-positive cornea rims from 446 consecutive donor corneas cultured at the Doheny Eye Institute between 1986 and 1988 was determined. Both the identity and antibiotic sensitivities of the contaminating organisms were reviewed. Sixty-three (14.1%) of 446 cornea rims were culture-positive, but none of the 63 patients who received these contaminated donor corneas developed endophthalmitis. Streptococcus (26 of 63), Propionibacterium (15 of 63), Stphylococcus (14 of 63) species and diptheroids (8 of 63) were the most common cornea rim contaminants, and in most cases were resistant to gentamicin (i.e., 21 of 26 or 81%, 9 of 15 or 60%, 10 of 14 or 71%, 4 of 8 or 50%, respectively). Virtually all of the gentamicin-resistant bacteria isolated from cornea rims were found to be sensitive to vancomycin. Eye banks should consider the addition of other antibiotics to storage media to reduce donor cornea contamination. Surgeons performing corneal transplantation should also consider these results when selecting antibiotics for use at the time of surgery and in the postoperative period.