Previous studies have shown that S-cone pathway sensitivity is selectively decreased in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. In the present study, rod system sensitivity was evaluated in a group of diabetic patients using psychophysical techniques. The course of dark adaptation was first determined, then absolute thresholds were measured in the horizontal and vertical meridians. For all patients, although the recovery of the initial portions of rod dark adaptation were normal, absolute thresholds were increased in both the horizontal and vertical meridians. The findings provide evidence that patients with early diabetic retinopathy show a generalized dysfunction of the rod system.