Isolated rabbit corneas were bathed on their endothelial surfaces with normal Krebs bicarbonate Ringer solution, while the epithelial surfaces were bathed in a basic tear solution containing sodium and potassium. When bathed in basic tear solution alone, corneal swelling occurred at an average of 12 μm/h over a 3-hour period. Corneal swelling occurred at a rate of about 21 μm/h when the epithelial solution was switched from normal basic tear solution to an iso-osmotic K<sup>+</sup>-free basic tear solution. Corneal swelling then slowed, and in the final hour of a 3-hour exposure to K<sup>+</sup>-free tear solution, the corneas deswelled at about 10 μm/h. The data indicate that potassium is a necessary solute for the maintenance of normal corneal thickness. The results suggest that a lacrimal dysfunction that would cause a decrease in the potassium content of tears may influence corneal thickness and also suggest that the inclusion of potassium in artificial tears is important.