We have used a color-matching technique to obtain estimates of the optical density of cone photopigments as a function of retinal illuminance in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). We found that the half-bleach illuminance of some patients is abnormally high. That is, it takes more light to bleach an equivalent amount of photopigment in these patients. Since low illuminance color matches for these patients are normal, this implies that these patients have normal amounts of photopigment, but the photopigment is not bleaching normally. This result clearly points to abnormalities in the outer retina of these diabetic patients. The most likely causes of this abnormality are either decreases in the ability of the cones to absorb light, or an increased rate of regeneration of the cone photopigments.