The predominant risk factor for the development of neovascular complications involving the retina (NVR), the optic disc (NVD), and iris (NVI) following central retinal vein obstruction (CRVO) is the extent, location, and duration of retinal ischemia (ischemic drive). The extent of retinal capillary nonperfusion (ischemic index) was quantitated by microcomputer analysis of 200 standard fundus-iris fluorescein angiograms. The results were correlated with the development of neovascularization in eyes not receiving prophylactic argon laser panretinal photocoagulation (PRP). Of the 85 eyes with intact capillary perfusion (hyperpermeable group), none developed NVR/NVD and only one eye (1%) developed neovascular glaucoma (NVG). Twenty-nine eyes exhibited moderate degrees of retinal ischemia (indeterminate group), and three eyes (10%) developed NVR/NVD, with two eyes (7%) developing NVG. Of the 86 eyes with extensive retinal capillary nonperfusion (ischemic group), 28 eyes (33%) developed NVR/NVD and NVG occurred in 39 eyes (45%). The inherent difficulties in following high risk patients clinically and angiographically at frequent intervals over extended periods of time, the tendency for rapid progression of early NVI to NVG, and the relatively poor results following treatment in advanced cases make the early recognition of eyes at high risk to develop NVG essential and the initiation of prophylactic PRP as the treatment of choice in this disorder.