PURPOSE To investigate whether corneal epithelial cells of individuals with lattice corneal dystrophy (LCD) possess an intrinsic defect. DESIGN Retrospective case-control study. METHODS The medical charts of nine individuals with LCD and those of 14 patients with keratoconus and 11 patients with corneal leukoma (controls), all of whom underwent penetrating keratoplasty (PKP) in one eye at Yamaguchi University Hospital between February 1998 and November 2001, were examined for the time for epithelial resurfacing after surgery. RESULTS The time required for resurfacing of the corneal epithelium after PKP was significantly greater in LCD patients (8.56 +/- 4.95 days, mean +/- SD) than in patients with either keratoconus (1.71 +/- 0.91 days, P = .006) or corneal leukoma (3.00 +/- 1.95 days, P = .03). CONCLUSIONS Corneal epithelial wound healing was delayed in LCD patients after PKP, suggesting that the keratoepithelin gene mutations responsible for this condition affect corneal epithelial cells.