Abstract Elevation of the ocular pressure in the anterior chamber of the rat eye caused major ischemic damage, manifested as changes in retinal morphology. The two most affected structures were the inner plexiform layer, which decreased in thickness by 90%, and the number of ganglion cells, which decreased by 80%. Pretreatment of the animals with Nω-nitro-l-arginine, a nitric oxide (NOS) inhibitor, almost completely abolished the ischemic damage. Administration of aminoguanidine, a NOS inhibitor selective for the inducible enzyme, partially abolished the ischemic damage. Moreover, administration of the NOS inhibitors 1 h after ischemia, also protected the retina from damage, suggesting that similarly acting drugs could be used clinically to limit ischemic injury in humans. We conclude that NOS, and therefore NO, may be involved in the mechanism of ischemic injury to the retina.