We divided 96 eyes (93 patients) with senile macular degeneration and choroidal neovascular membranes into two groups--those with juxtafoveal membranes (1 to 250 mu from the center of the foveal avascular zone) and those with subfoveal membranes (0 mu from the center of the zone). After an average follow-up period of 21 months, one of 38 eyes in the juxtafoveal group (3%) had improved two or more lines on the Snellen chart, three eyes (8%) had remained the same, and 34 eyes (89%) had lost two or more lines on the Snellen chart. Although 35 of the 38 eyes (92%) had had initial visual acuities of 6/30 (20/100) or better, 27 eyes (71%) had become legally blind. Of the 58 eyes in the subfoveal group, 18 (31%) had remained the same or improved and 40 (69%) had lost two or more lines on the Snellen chart; 41 (70%) had final visual acuities of 6/60 (20/20) or worse. Of the 26 eyes in the subfoveal group that had had initial visual acuities of 6/60 (20/100) or better (45%). four (15%) had stayed the same and 22 (85%) had lost two or more lines on the Snellen chart. Fourteen of the 26 eyes (54%) had final visual acuities of 6/60 (20/200) or worse. Exudative maculopathy developed in the second eye in 13% of patients who initially had unilateral choroidal neovascularization after 12 months, in 22% after 24 months, and in 29% after 36 months, using life table analysis.