beta-crystallins are abundant lens proteins in most, if not all vertebrate species. We have previously reported the presence of low levels of beta-crystallins in chick non-lens tissues, both ocular and extra-ocular, including the expression of beta B2-crystallin in the retina. Here we report that extralenticular beta-crystallin expression is also found in mammals. beta B2-crystallin is expressed in mouse and cat neural and pigmented retinas and in cat iris. Although present at levels lower than those found in the lens, the appearance and accumulation of beta B2-crystallin in the neural retina coincides with the functional maturation of this tissue.