Retinol dehydrogenase 12 (RDH12) is a microsomal enzyme that catalyzes the reduction of all-trans-retinaldehyde to all-trans-retinol when expressed in cells. Mutations in RDH12 cause severe retinal degeneration; however, some of the disease-associated RDH12 mutants retain significant catalytic activity. Our previous study (Lee et al., 2010 ) demonstrated that the catalytically active T49M and I51N variants of RDH12 undergo accelerated degradation through the ubiquitin-proteosome system, which results in reduced levels of these proteins in the cells. Here, we investigated whether the stabilization of T49M or I51N RDH12 protein levels through the inhibition of proteosome activity or improved folding could rescue their retinaldehyde reductase activity. For the T49M variant, the inhibition of proteosome activity resulted in an increased level of T49M protein in the microsomal fraction. The higher level of the T49M variant in microsomes correlated with the higher microsomal retinaldehyde reductase activity. T49M-expressing living cells treated with the inhibitors of proteosome activity or with dimethyl sulfoxide exhibited an increase in the conversion of retinaldehyde to retinol, consistent with the recovery of functional RDH12 protein. On the other hand, accumulation of the I51N variant in the microsomes did not result in higher retinaldehyde reductase activity of the microsomes or cells. These results provide a proof of concept that, at least in the case of the T49M variant, the prevention of accelerated degradation could lead to restoration of its function in the cells. This finding justifies further search for more efficient and clinically relevant compounds for stabilizing the T49M variant activity. © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.