By rearing fish in various monochromatic illuminations we investigated (1) the potential for compensation of refractive error due to chromatic aberration, (2) the contributions of the chromatic channels to emmetropization, and (3) the role of color cues in the control of eye growth. Cichlid fish (Aequidens pulcher) were reared for 6 months (12 h light/12 h dark) in monochromatic lights (623.5, 534.1, 485.0 nm; spectral purity 5-10 nm). Light levels were isoirradiant at 1.1.10(12) quanta/s/cm2. Two control groups were reared in white light with down-welling illuminances of 0.2 and 33 lx. Nasotemporal diameters (NTDs) of the eyes were measured in relation to lens size. Due to the oblique axis of highest acuity vision in cichlids, NTD is considered to be a more important dimension than axial length. Variances in NTD were equally small in all rearing groups. NTDs were enlarged with increasing wavelengths of the rearing lights with highly significant values over controls in the red-light group. The wavelength-dependent size of the eyes matched the changes in focal length due to longitudinal chromatic aberration. Complete recovery from eye enlargement was observed after fish reared in red light were exposed to a white light regime for 5 weeks. Small variances in NTD in all groups indicated stringent control of eye growth in the absence of color cues. The reversibility of the increase in NTD in fish reared in red light suggests that the eyes were emmetropized by visually guided mechanisms. Eye size in fish reared in white light was intermediate between the values expected if only blue-sensitive single or the red- and green-sensitive double cones contributed to the control of eye growth. This suggests that all chromatic channels participate in emmetropizing the fish eye.