Studies in knockout mice support the involvement of alcohol dehydrogenases ADH1 and ADH4 in retinoid metabolism, although kinetics with retinoids are not known for the mouse enzymes. Moreover, a role of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) in the eye retinoid interconversions cannot be ascertained due to the lack of information on the kinetics with 11-cis-retinoids. We report here the kinetics of human ADH1B1, ADH1B2, ADH4, and mouse ADH1 and ADH4 with all-trans-, 7-cis-, 9-cis-, 11-cis- and 13-cis-isomers of retinol and retinal. These retinoids are substrates for all enzymes tested, except the 13-cis isomers which are not used by ADH1. In general, human and mouse ADH4 exhibit similar activity, higher than that of ADH1, while mouse ADH1 is more efficient than the homologous human enzymes. All tested ADHs use 11-cis-retinoids efficiently. ADH4 shows much higher kcat/Km values for 11-cis-retinol oxidation than for 11-cis-retinal reduction, a unique property among mammalian ADHs for any alcohol/aldehyde substrate pair. Docking simulations and the kinetic properties of the human ADH4 M141L mutant demonstrated that residue 141, in the middle region of the active site, is essential for such ADH4 specificity. The distinct kinetics of ADH4 with 11-cis-retinol, its wide specificity with retinol isomers and its immunolocalization in several retinal cell layers, including pigment epithelium, support a role of this enzyme in the various retinol oxidations that occur in the retina. Cytosolic ADH4 activity may complement the isomer-specific microsomal enzymes involved in photopigment regeneration and retinoic acid synthesis.