The blood-retinal barrier, consisting of retinal pigment epithelial cells and retinal endothelial cells, prevents hemopexin and haptoglobin, anti-oxidant protective plasma proteins normally synthesized by the liver, from entering the neural retina. If present, these proteins must, therefore, be made locally. The cell types within the retina in which hemopexin and haptoglobin mRNAs are made have been investigated. RNA was extracted from both the neural retina and pigment epithelium obtained by dissection of human donor eyes as well as from cultured pigment epithelial and photoreceptor cells. The mRNAs for both haptoglobin and hemopexin were detected, using reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, in the neural retina and cultured photoreceptors but not in pigment epithelial cells. The cellular location of these mRNAs was determined using in situ hybridization of sections of human retina which revealed that haptoglobin mRNA was located principally in the photoreceptor cells, cells of the inner nuclear layer and some cells of the ganglion cell layer. Hemopexin mRNA, previously shown to be made in the human neural retina (Hunt et al., 1996. Journal of Cellular Physiology 168: 71-80), is expressed by most of the cells of neural retina including the photoreceptors and, notably, the ganglion cells.