Apoptosis is an essential physiological process in embryonic development. In the developing eye of vertebrates, three periods of developmental apoptosis can be distinguished: early, intermediate and later. Within the apoptosis pathway, caspases play a crucial role. It has also been shown that HSP110 may have a potential role in apoptosis. The aim of this research was to study the expression of HSP110, caspase-3 and -9 in physiological, retinoic- or irradiation-induced apoptosis during early eye development. Seven pregnant C57Bl/6J mice received 80 mg kg−1 of all-trans retinoic acid mixed with sesame oil. Seven pregnant NMRI mice received 2 Gy irradiation at the same gestational day. Control mice of both strains (seven mice of each) were not submitted to any treatment. Embryos were harvested at 3, 6, 12 and 24 h after exposition, fixed, dehydrated and embedded. Coronal sections (5 µm) were made. Slide staining occurred alternatively using anti-caspase-3, anti-caspase-9 and anti-HSP110 immunohistochemistry. HSP110 and caspase-3 expression presented similar topographic and chronological patterns, whereas expression of HSP110 was more precocious in retinoic acid-treated embryos. After retinoic exposure, caspase-3- and HSP110-positive cells were increased in the region of the optic vesicle. By contrast, after irradiation, caspase-3- and HSP110-positive cells were noticeably increased in the optic vesicle, peri-optical mesoderm but less in lens placode. HSP110 was expressed before caspase-3. By contrast, caspase-9 was expressed by a very small number of cells in the optic vesicle either under physiological or under teratogenic conditions. Thus, it seems that activation of caspase-9 is dispensable in early eye developmental apoptosis.