A lesion in cGMP metabolism has been hypothesized to cause retinal degeneration in rd mice. Available cloned cDNAs coding for proteins involved in the cGMP cascade have been used to compare the corresponding retinal RNAs in the degenerative (rd/rd) mouse at 8-11 days with those in the 8-11-day-old morphologically normal (rd/+) and adult normal (+/+) mice. Northern analysis of these RNAs hybridized to the specific 32P-labeled cDNA probes for G-protein, 48,000 MW protein and opsin, indicates in each case, that the corresponding transcripts are made in the rd/rd mouse retina and that there are no overt differences in their size compared to the transcripts hybridized in the rd/+ or +/+ mouse retinas. Although a defect in the phosphorylation of opsin has been described in rd mice, no difference was found in the transcripts hybridized by a cDNA probe corresponding to the region of the opsin molecule on which phosphorylation occurs. We do find, however, that labeled bovine-derived opsin cDNA recognizes five different RNA size classes in mouse and bovine retinas. Control experiments were performed to confirm that the RNA hybridized by opsin cDNA was not due to non-specific hybridization to unrelated RNAs.