Abstract The majority of specific benzodiazepine binding sites were found to be restricted to the innerplexiform layer of the rat retina, although there were minor amounts of binding in the inner nuclear and ganglion cell layers. Relatively high levels of non-specific benzodiazepine binding sites were, on the other hand, found in the pigment epithelium and ciliary body, as well as in the corneal epithelium. The specific binding was enhanced by the GABA-A agonist, muscimol. In both rats and cats, neither acute nor chronic administration of benzodiazepines or their antagonists altered the retinal functions, as determined by the electroretinogram. These results suggest that retinal benzodiazepine receptors do not influence visually induced preganglionic retinal activity.