Retinal detachments were produced in domestic cats by injecting fluid between the retinal pigment epithelium and neural retina. Retinas were allowed to remain detached for 30 or 60 days at which time the animals were killed. Tissue areas from detached and attached retinal regions from the same eye were processed for correlative biochemical and structural analysis, i.e. SDS-PAGE and Western blots of tissue homogenates were correlated with tissue processed for postembedding immunoelectron microscopy. Antibodies to six proteins were used as probes. Glial fibrillary acidic protein in Müller cells has previously been shown to increase after retinal detachment; here we show that vimentin, another intermediate filament protein present in Müller cells, also increases after detachment. In contrast, cellular retinaldehyde binding protein, cellular retinol binding protein, glutamine synthetase, and carbonic anhydrase C--all normally found in Müller cells--decrease after detachment. The results of this study indicate that retinal Müller cells dramatically alter their expression of proteins in response to retinal detachment.