In a prospective study, 41 patients with documented chronic macular edema of various causes were entered into a therapeutic trial of acetazolamide sodium, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. Each patient received a five-cycle cross-over regimen of treatment/no treatment with a further two cycles of cross-over with another diuretic, cyclopenthiazide, which does not inhibit carbonic anhydrase. At each cross-over patients were examined for evidence of macular edema. Sixteen of 41 patients showed a reproducible response to acetazolamide with partial or complete resolution of edema and improvement of visual acuity. The therapeutic effect occurred in more than half of the patients with inherited outer retinal disease or uveitis, but in none with primary retinal vascular disorders. There was no correlation between the response to treatment and the extent or duration of the edema. No influence of cyclopenthiazide on macular edema was detected.