Foveal sensitivities were measured after onset of adapting background fields for each of the following four groups of subjects aged 40-70 years: (1) low-tension glaucoma subjects with minimal field loss in the test eye, (2) primary open-angle glaucoma subjects with minimal field loss in the test eye, (3) normal control subjects, and (4) subjects originally enrolled as control subjects but subsequently found, on the basis of masked clinical evaluation, to be suspect for glaucoma despite ostensibly normal intraocular pressures. We found that the desensitization of a short-wavelength-sensitive-cone-mediated response after onset of a 580-nm background field was diminished from that of normal observers for low-tension glaucoma subjects but not for primary open-angle glaucoma subjects. The desensitization was also diminished for a glaucoma-suspect subjects aged 60-70 years. In contrast, the flicker sensitivity instabilities that persisted after onset of a long-wavelength background field for the majority of subjects with primary open-angle glaucoma [J. Glaucoma Suppl. 3, S19 (1994)] occurred only infrequently among the other subject groups. These results imply that glaucoma often involves the fovea, probably by affecting retinal subtractive adaptation processes, although with different consequences for different types of glaucoma. The results also suggest that undiagnosed low-tension glaucoma may not be rare in the general aging population.