Subretinal blood within the macula may cause visual loss in a number of macular diseases. The clinical and histopathologic effects of experimental subretinal hemorrhage were evaluated in the cat. Subretinal hemorrhages were produced by creating a focal neurosensory retinal detachment with micropipette techniques, then inserting a needle tip transsclerally to allow choroidal blood to fill the bleb. Experimental lesions were examined clinically and with light and electron microscopy during a 14-day postoperative period. Initial observations included clot organization with retraction of fibrin strands. In six of nine clots more than 1 hour old, fibrin was associated with tearing of sheets of photoreceptor inner and outer segments. Later degeneration progressed to involve all retinal layers overlying the densest areas of fibrin in the clots. Hemorrhages into subretinal blebs containing tissue plasminogen activator did not form fibrin strands or cause photoreceptor tearing. These findings highlight the potential for improved retinal survival if organized subretinal clot can be eliminated soon after formation.