Exposure of dark-adapted albino rats to light (350 lux) significantly elevated retinal levels of the dopamine metabolite dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid during the next hour; their return to a dark environment caused dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid levels to fall. Retinal dopamine levels were increased slightly by light exposure, suggesting that the increase in dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid reflected accelerated dopamine synthesis. Administration of tyrosine (100 mg/kg, i.p.) further elevated retinal dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid among light-exposed animals, but failed to affect dopamine release among animals in the dark. These observations show that a physiological stimulus--light exposure--can cause catecholaminergic neurons to become tyrosine-dependent; they also suggest that food consumption may affect neurotransmitter release within the retina.