Purpose To evaluate the mechanism of spontaneous resolution of foveal detachments and idiopathic macular breaks. Method We reviewed the records of 139 consecutive eyes (94 patients) with either a foveal detachment or a macular break in patients who were examined between 1989 and 1992. There were 26 men and 68 women (mean age, 66.9 ± 6.9 years). They were either unoperated on or observed during the period that preceded surgery. Each patient underwent complete ophthalmic examination in addition to slit-lamp photography of the vitreomacular interface and microperimetry with the scanning laser ophthalmoscope. Results Eight eyes demonstrated spontaneous resolution. A foveal detachment was noted in five eyes (five patients) and a stage 2 macular break in three eyes (three patients). The mean duration of observation was 33 months (range, one to 144 months). Resolution of the foveal detachments occurred without the development of posterior vitreous detachment. In each eye, the presence of a pseudo-operculum, indicating vitreofoveal separation, was accompanied by flattening of the foveal detachment without detectable posterior vitreous detachment. The three eyes with stage 2 macular break resolved after premature development of a posterior vitreous detachment. Conclusions Foveal detachment and macular break resolution seem to result from the release or weakening of vitreous traction on the fovea. Reattachment of the foveal retina preserves fair to good visual acuity. Surgical intervention is contraindicated (1) in eyes in which foveal detachment flattens and develops a pseudo-operculum and (2) when a posterior vitreous detachment develops in an eye with a stage 2 macular break. Careful biomicroscopic vitreous examination and microperimetry with the scanning laser ophthalmoscope are extremely useful methods for adequate examination of these patients.