The normal postnatal development, the influence of age, and the effects of visual deprivation on the dopamine system in the retina of rhesus monkeys were examined. The lowest level of retinal dopamine was found at birth. By 3-4 weeks of age, the dopamine concentration had more than doubled. This level remained relatively constant in the retinas of older infants and of adult monkeys up to 34 yr of age. The level of the dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase did not significantly change as a function of age during the postnatal life span. Monocular occlusion of newborn or infant monkeys for 1-15 months with opaque contact lenses resulted in decreases in the retinal concentrations of dopamine and DOPAC relative to the concentrations in the same animals' unoccluded eyes. Occlusion also resulted in a lower level of tyrosine hydroxylase activity in the retina. Monocular eyelid suture from birth to 15 months of age resulted in less consistent alterations of retinal dopamine and DOPAC levels; tyrosine hydroxylase activity, however, was consistently reduced by lid suture. Thus, dopamine synthesis and metabolism, and the ontogenetic increase of the retinal dopamine level of rhesus monkey are reduced by light deprivation.