Presentation of research work at scientific meetings and professional societies is an important first step toward effective scientific communication of research results. To determine the current publication patterns of abstracts, a computerized MEDLINE literature search was performed on 175 randomly selected ophthalmic clinical and basic science abstracts published in conjunction with two ophthalmic national meetings. This search revealed that 105 abstracts (60%) led to full-length articles in peer-reviewed journals within 50 to 56 months of the meeting date. A median interval of 13 months occurred from date of abstract publication to acceptance of the corresponding article. Most articles appeared within 3 years of abstract presentation. Sixty-four percent (48 of 75) of the posters and free papers presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in November 1984 led to full-length articles, as did 57% (57 of 100) of the abstracts presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in May 1985. These findings emphasize the preliminary nature of abstracts. The fact that nearly 60% of abstracts are published reflects favorably on the review process of both meetings.