During the last ten years, several groups, including the present authors, have detected growth factor activities in various ocular tissues, and the presence of a ubiquitous Eye-Derived Growth Factor (EDGF) has been described. More recently, isolation and characterization of this growth factor activity from the retina led to the identification of two molecules. These molecules were shown to be identical to other growth factors isolated from neuronal and non-neuronal tissues and are now designated as acidic and basic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF, bFGF). The biological function and the reason for the ubiquitous distribution of these factors remain unclear. Understanding may be improved by quantification of this distribution in various tissues during development. In the present study, specific polyclonal antibodies were raised against acidic FGF, aFGF was determined in various ocular tissues by enzyme immunoassay, and the localization of immunoreactive aFGF by immunohistological staining with fluorescent antibodies or with enzyme- or gold-labeled antibodies was studied. In almost all tissues tested aFGF was found; but the retina, cornea, and vitreous body contained the highest levels of aFGF per gram of tissue. In the retina, aFGF was associated primarily with the nerve fiber layer and the inner and outer segments of the photoreceptors, whereas corneal aFGF was detected in the cytoplasma of the basal layer of epithelial cells.