Meibomian gland transillumination biomicroscopy and infrared photography were performed on 18 patients with clinically evident meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and dermatologic rosacea, 22 patients having MGD without evidence of dermatologic rosacea, and 15 unaffected individuals who served as controls. All patients having clinical signs of MGD demonstrated morphologic abnormalities of their meibomian glands by transilluminated biomicroscopy. Patients without dermatologic rosacea were noted to have varying degrees of gland distortion. Moreover, infrared photography documented a loss of the normal grape-like clusters of dark spots that represent the gland, suggesting a loss of glandular acini. Patients with dermatologic rosacea had more severe alterations, including marked distortion and loss of normal gland anatomy. There were no such abnormalities in clinically unaffected individuals. These data demonstrate that transilluminated biomicroscopy and infrared photography have the ability to identify a spectrum of morphologic alterations of the meibomian glands in MGD patients. The authors suggest that these techniques could be used to classify clinical MGD based upon the presence or absence of identifiable meibomian gland abnormalities.