Five opsin cDNA clones were isolated from a goldfish retina cDNA library and sequenced. On the basis of homology to previously characterized visual pigments, one clone was identified as goldfish rod opsin and a second as a goldfish red cone opsin. Two rhodopsin-like clones were found to be similar to the chicken green opsin, a pigment which shares properties with both rod and cone pigments. A fifth clone was equally homologous to human blue cone opsin and human rod opsin. In order to characterize the spectral properties of the encoded pigments, the five clones were expressed in tissue culture cells and the apoproteins reconstituted with 11-cis-retinal. The wavelength of maximal absorption for goldfish rhodopsin is 492 nm and for the fifth pigment, identified as the goldfish blue pigment, 441 nm. Pigments encoded by the two rhodopsin-like clones absorb at 505 and 511 nm and are likely to correspond to the goldfish green pigment previously characterized by microspectrophotometry. The putative red cone opsin cDNA may encode a pigment that is a polymorphic variant of goldfish red since it absorbs maximally at 525 nm.