The damaging effects of intense light on the rat retina are known to vary depending on the time of day of exposure. The purpose of this study was to determine if rhodopsin phosphorylation patterns, a measure of the activity of the pigment, varied in a similar manner. After 10 min in strong light (1400 lux), all six threonine and serine sites in the rat rhodopsin C-terminus were phosphorylated, with mono- to tetraphosphorylation being substantially more prominent than penta- to hexaphosphorylation. The level and multiplicity of rhodopsin phosphorylations were reduced both with the duration of light exposure and the duration of subsequent darkness. Although showing vast differences in susceptibility to light damage, rats exposed at 5 P.M. or 1 A.M. showed similar rhodopsin phosphorylation levels and patterns. These data indicate that a process controlled by circadian rhythm other than rhodopsin phosphorylation is involved either in damaging or mediating the damage evoked by intense light exposure.