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The time course of rod dark adaptation was measured in 12 patients and carriers of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). In contrast to previous studies the rod absolute threshold was determined prior to any exposure to the bleaching light. For seven of the patients and carriers the recovery of rod sensitivity to the prebleach level was prolonged, with the delay ranging from mild to severe. The prolongation appeared to be limited to the late phase of bleaching recovery; the early portion of rod dark adaptation, measured following a weak bleach, was normal. These results suggest a selective impairment in the processes underlying rod dark adaptation in some patients with RP.