Here we suggest that endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-stress may be induced following aberrant rhodopsin accumulation in photoreceptors in explanted rat retinas. Rhodopsin accumulation was accompanied by increased phosphorylation of pancreatic ER-kinase and eukaryotic initiator factor 2α as well as increased levels of C/EBP homologous protein, glucose-regulated protein 78 and eventually increased cleaved caspase-12 and cleaved caspase-3. Glucose-regulated protein 78, pancreatic ER-kinase, caspase-12 and cleaved caspase-3 were present in photoreceptors, indicating that ER-stress and apoptosis are induced in this cell population. These results suggest that ER-stress and subsequent apoptosis is induced in healthy photoreceptors, presumably by aberrant accumulation of rhodopsin and the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiator factor 2α. The explant culture system may allow investigations of neuroprotective strategies.