Oxidative stress plays a role in the light damage model of retinal degeneration as well as in age-related macular degeneration. The purpose of this study is to identify retinal genes induced by acute photo-oxidative stress, which may function as mediators of apoptosis or as survival factors. To accomplish this, Balb/c mice were exposed to bright cool white fluorescent light for 7hr. Retinas were then isolated for total RNA preparation followed by Affymetrix DNA microarray analysis to compare gene expression in light damaged mice to unexposed controls. Three independent light damage experiments were carried out and statistical filters were applied to detect genes with expression changes averaging at least two-fold. Quantitative PCR was carried out to confirm altered gene expression. Seventy genes were upregulated at least two-fold immediately following light damage. QPCR confirmed upregulation of all 10 genes tested. The upregulated genes fall into several categories including antioxidants: ceruloplasmin, metallothionein, and heme oxygenase; antiapoptotic gene: bag3, chloride channels: clic1 and clic4; transcription factors: c-fos, fra1, junB, stat1, krox-24 and c/ebp; secreted signaling molecules: chitinase 3-like protein 1 and osteopontin; inflammation related genes: MCP-1 and ICAM1 and others. Upregulation of five interferon-gamma responsive genes suggests elevated interferon levels after light damage. Upregulation of three components of the AP-1 transcription factor is consistent with previous evidence implicating AP-1 in light damage pathogenesis. Four copper or iron binding proteins were upregulated, suggesting that photo-oxidative stress may affect metal homeostasis. The genes found upregulated by light damage may affect the survival of photoreceptors subjected to photo-oxidative stress. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.