We evaluated previously reported and hypothesized risk factors for the development of age-related maculopathy (ARM) in a case-control study. We compared 26 patients with documented disciform scarring or choroidal neovascularization with 23 age- and sex-matched controls. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, smoking history, glucose, lipoprotein profiles, and serum levels of vitamins A, C, and E did not differ significantly between the two groups. Statistically significant associations (P less than 0.05) identified by univariate analysis include degree of dermal elastotic degeneration in sun-exposed and sun-protected skin, white blood count, increasing age and small posterior lenticular opacities. Using an interactive multivariate model, only extent of elastosis in sun protected dermis, age and white blood count were predictive (Mult R = 0.652, P less than .001). Our data support the concept of a multifactorial etiology of ARM but suggest that generalized increased susceptibility of elastic fibers to photic or other degenerative stimuli is a new and important risk factor for choroidal neovascularization.