It is known that when hyperopic or myopic defocus is imposed on chick eyes by spectacle lenses, they rapidly compensate, becoming myopic or hyperopic respectively, by altering the depth of their vitreous chamber. Changes in two components--ocular length and choroidal thickness--underlie this rapid compensation. With monocular lens treatment, hyperopic defocus imposed by negative lenses resulted in substantially increased ocular elongation and a slight thinning of the choroid, both changes resulting in myopia; myopic defocus imposed by positive lenses resulted a dramatic increase in choroidal thickness, which pushed the retina forward toward the image plane, and a slight decrease in ocular elongation, both changes resulting in hyperopia. The refractive error after 5 days of lens wear correlated well with vitreous chamber depth, which reflected the changes in both choroidal thickness and ocular length. The degree of compensation for lenses was not affected by whether the fellow eye was covered or open. Both form-deprivation myopia and lens-induced myopia declined with age in parallel, but wearing a -15 D lens produced more myopia than did form deprivation. The spectacle lenses affected the refractive error not only of the lens-wearing eye, but also, to a much lesser degree, of the untreated fellow eye. At lens removal refractive errors were opposite in sign to the lense worn, and the subsequent changes in choroidal thickness and ocular length were also opposite to those that occurred when the lenses were in place. In this situation as well, effects of the spectacle lenses on the fellow eyes were observed. Eyes with no functional afferent connection to the brain because of either prior optic nerve section or intraocular tetrodotoxin injections showed compensatory changes to imposed defocus, but these were limited to compensation for imposed myopic defocus, at least for the eyes with optic nerve section. In addition, optic nerve section, but not tetrodotoxin treatment, moved the set-point of the visual compensatory mechanism toward hyperopia. Optic nerve section prevents myopia in response to negative lenses but not to diffusers, suggesting that compensation for hyperopia requires the central nervous system.