We have found that hydrogen peroxide (10−4 − 10−2 M) rapidly induces microvilli on separate cells and confluent sheets of human retinal pigment epithelium in culture. t-butyl hydroperoxide and sodium arsenite do not induce microvilli. A role for hydrogen peroxide as an intercellular messenger has previously been proposed in the inflammatory response, in which hydrogen peroxide from phagocytes may signal to vascular endothelial cells. Our observations thus provide a second example of the induction of what may be a physiological response by this potentially toxic agent. In the retina, hydrogen peroxide released from illuminated photoreceptors may elongate the microvilli which extend into the spaces between them. Increased numbers of microvilli and their protrusion further into the photoreceptor layer may enhance various interactions between the two cell types, including the antioxidant functions of the epithelium.