The recent immunological detection of extraordinarily high levels of carboxyethylpyrrole (CEP) modifications of proteins from the retinas of individuals with age-related macular degeneration provided presumptive evidence for the involvement of docosahexaenoate-derived oxidatively truncated phospholipids in retinal pathology. To facilitate the in vivo detection and characterization of the chemistry and biological activities of these postulated naturally occurring molecules, a family of oxidatively truncated phospholipids was prepared by total syntheses. Their formation in oxidation reactions of a docosahexaenoate ester of 2-lysophosphatidylcholine (DHA-PC) was also demonstrated. Free radical-induced oxidative cleavage of DHA-PC promoted by myeloperoxidase or copper ions generates similar mixtures of these phospholipids. The most abundant products were 1-palmitoyl-2-succinoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (4.7%) and 2-(6-carboxy-4-oxohex-5-enoyl)-1-palmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (1.7%). Both of these oxidatively truncated phospholipids are homologues of biologically active arachidonate-derived phospholipids. A minor product from DHA-PC, 2-(4-hydroxy-7-oxohept-5-enoyl)-1-palmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (0.4% yield), reacted with the epsilon-amino group of a peptide lysyl residue to produce a CEP derivative in 0.7% yield. These observations support the previous conclusion, based on immunological evidence, that CEPs are generated by the reaction of an oxidatively truncated phospholipid with proteins in the retina and further indicate that CEP protein modifications probably represent only a tiny fraction of the products generated upon oxidative damage of DHA-PC in photoreceptor disk membranes.