One hundred ten patients with serous detachment of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) were reexamined to enhance our knowledge of the natural course of this condition. All patients were greater than 50 years of age, had age-related macular degeneration, and had neither blood, lipid, nor angiographic evidence of a definite choroidal neovascular membrane (NVM) at the time of the initial examination. All patients were followed up for at least six months except for two patients who had developed a choroidal NVM within the first six months of the initial exam. Forty-five of 140 eyes (32%) developed a choroidal NVM within an average of 19.6 months (median, 12 months). This was associated with a final visual acuity of 20/200 or worse (P less than 0.0001). Ophthalmoscopic and angiographic features present at the initial visit which were associated with the development of NVM and poor final visual acuity were: sensory retinal detachment; increased size of PED; hot spot; late filling; notching; and irregular filling. At the most recent examination, 39% of the eyes had a final visual acuity of 20/20 to 20/40, while 24% of the eyes had a final visual acuity of less than or equal to 20/200.