Smoke, either from cigarette smoking or from burning of organic fuels, has been proposed to be a major environmental risk factor for a variety of human diseases. Recently, smoke was implicated in cataract, an eye lens opacification which is a major cause of blindness. We have undertaken a study to investigate the effect of wood smoke condensate on the physiological integrity and morphology of organ cultured lenses. Lenses in organ culture are metabolically active and have functional defense systems, thus they provide an appropriate model for studying effects of smoke condensate. Our present study indicates that metabolites of wood smoke condensate accumulate in the lens. The ability of the lenses to accumulate rubidium-86 (mimic of potassium) and choline from the medium is compromised by exposure to smoke condensate. Rubidium efflux studies suggest that the damage is primarily at the uptake level and does not involve an overall increase in membrane permeability. Protein leakage experiments corroborate this suggestion. Histological data show distinct morphological changes such as hyperplasia, hypertrophy and multilayering of epithelial cells.