We treated experimental corneal epithelial wounds in rabbits with topical retinoids. Treatment with 0.1% all-trans-retinoic acid three times per day resulted in a 21% increase in the healing rate compared to the control eyes. Treatment five times a day resulted in a 35% increase in healing rate. Treatment with topical retinoic acid also promoted corneal deturgescence. Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinol, and 13-cis-retinoic acid had no effect on corneal wound healing. These data suggested that topically applied all-trans-retinoic acid may be effective in promoting corneal healing after surgery and in the treatment of persistent and recurring corneal epithelial defects.