The effect of phorbol esters on the light-evoked responses of horizontal cells were studied in the turtle eyecup preparation. Phorbol esters caused a reduction in receptive field size and a significant decrease in the amplitude of responses to annular and full-field illumination; however, they caused only minor changes in responses to small spots in the receptive field centre. The dark membrane potential was not affected. The results suggest that phorbol esters may affect both coupling resistance and membrane resistance in horizontal cells. The effects of phorbol esters were blocked by the protein kinase C inhibitor staurosporine, and inactive phorbol ester had no effect, making it very likely that the phorbol ester effects were mediated through activation of protein kinase C. The above effects of the phorbol esters were considerably reduced by the dopamine antagonists haloperidol and fluphenazine, suggesting that they were in part mediated by release of dopamine.