The purpose of this work was to determine if the lens gap junction proteins connexin 46 (Cx46) and connexin 50 (Cx50) were altered with the development of selenite-induced cataract. Cataracts were induced in young Sprague-Dawley rats with a single subcutaneous injection of sodium selenite; age-matched uninjected rats served as controls. Membrane fractions were isolated from homogenates of cortex and nucleus of normal and cataractous lenses by differential and discontinuous sucrose gradient centrifugation. Aliquots of urea-insoluble protein from membrane fractions were analyzed by quantitative densitometry of Western blots probed with antibodies to Cx46 and Cx50. A significant decrease in the more slowly migrating Cx46-reactive band, which represents phosphorylated Cx46, was found in the major membrane fraction of the cortex of cataractous lenses. There was no significant difference in the amounts of either Cx46 or Cx50 associated with selenite cataract in any of the membrane fractions examined. These results suggest that alteration of gap junction function (as evidenced by the change in phosphorylation of Cx46) may be associated with the development of the selenite cataract, but that neither Cx46 nor Cx50 is subject to the well-characterized proteolysis associated with the selenite cataract model.