Risk factors for significant visual loss were investigated in 51 patients with iridocyclitis associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Average follow-up was 12.7 years. Of 89 eyes with uveitis, 22% had visual loss to 20/200 or worse, 46% had cataracts, 30% had band keratopathy, and 27% had glaucoma. Severity of visual loss and complications correlated with the degree of inflammation found on initial ocular examination. Of 58 eyes that were initially normal or had signs of mild inflammation (cells, flare, keratitic precipitates), 3% had final vision of 20/200 or worse, 28% had cataracts, 5% had band keratopathy, and 17% had glaucoma. Of 31 eyes with posterior synechiae on initial examination, 58% had final vision of 20/200 or worse, 81% had cataracts, 77% had band keratopathy, and 45% had glaucoma. When arthritis clearly preceded uveitis, 6% of patients had a poor visual outcome compared to 67% of patients whose initial manifestation of JRA was uveitis. Systemic corticosteroid administration used primarily for arthritis correlated with cataract formation.