Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) gene expression in rat retina following transient ischemia was studied by semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Gene expression for other cytokines was also studied by RT-PCR. Although very little expression for TNF gene was detected in normal retina, it was markedly increased 0.5-48 h after reperfusion, with peak expression at 12 h (20-fold of control). Gene expression for interleukin-6, interferon-γ, and transforming growth factor-β<sub>1</sub> was also increased. The results provide evidence that retinal ischemia can up-regulate cytokine gene expression in the retina.