BACKGROUND: The concept of enhancing the ocular hypotensive effects of topical antiglaucoma medications by impeding lacrimal drainage of medication has been insufficiently studied. This investigation sought to evaluate the effect of bilateral inferior punctal occlusion using silicone punctal plugs on the ocular hypotensive effect of topically applied timolol. METHODS: A randomized, double-masked, cross-over clinical trial was conducted, comparing the ocular hypotensive effect of timolol maleate 0.25 percent, both with and without occlusion of the inferior punctum with the Freeman silicone punctal plug. Following a 2-week washout of topical medication, 17 subjects with early primary open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension received one drop of timolol 0.25 percent in each eye with or without punctal plugs in place. Blood pressure, resting pulse rate, and intraocular pressure were measured both before timolol instillation and at intervals of 1, 2, 4, 8, and 12 hours following drop instillation. Following a 2-week washout period, the subjects were evaluated with the alternative treatment. RESULTS: There was no statistically significant difference (p = 0.648) in IOP levels between treatment groups. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot suggests that need for a longer-term study with larger numbers of subjects to evaluate the potential role of silicone punctal plugs to enhance the ocular bioavailability of topically applied antiglaucoma medications.