Abstract Carnitine is present in the eye tissues of the rabbit and the highest concentration is found in the lens. In streptozotocin-diabetic rats, the carnitine loss of the lens is an initial and important event. At 8 days after the induction of diabetes, the carnitine content in the rat lens was reduced by 63% compared to control. The loss of lens carnitine continued at 15 and 45 days after the induction. Total carnitine level in the serum was diminished by 15 days, and the reduction in percentage term was much lower in comparison to the loss of lens carnitine. In the rabbit after alloxan-diabetes induction, there is an extensive loss of carnitine in the lens: -85% after 4 months. The carnitine levels in the other eye tissues seem substantially unaffected. The loss of lens carnitine was present even with an inconsistent hyperglycaemia. No difference was found in serum carnitine levels between controls and alloxan-treated rabbits. The role of carnitine in lens is still unclear, but its loss may be related to the appearance of cataract. A derivative of carnitine, acetylcarnitine, might prevent the processes involved in the formation of cataracts by a pharmacological action, as has been shown for aspirin.