Cultured human retinal pigment epithelium was injected into the vitreous of owl monkeys. The epithelial cells were derived from either a foetal or an adult cell line. The five monkeys which were injected with cultured foetal cells developed substantial vitreal membranes and had retinal detachment by 2 weeks, whereas the five monkeys with cultured adult cells did not develop detachments within the period of investigation, and vitreal membranes were insubstantial. An electron-microscopic, immunohistochemical and autoradiographic study was conducted on these eyes to investigate in detail the behaviour and intraocular effects of the injected cells. © 1986 Academic Press Inc. (London) Limited.