Many eyes donated for use in corneal grafting are rejected because of signs of autolysis in the donor material. The purpose of this experimental study was to determine whether hydrocortisone acting as a lysosome membrane stabilizer could prevent or retard autolysis of the corneas under storage, and if so, what was the most efficacious concentration. Different groups of rabbit corneas were placed in saline as controls or in varying concentrations of hydrocortisone (10(-10) M to 10(-4) M at pH 7.4) at 37 degrees C and 4 degrees C. Acid phosphatase released after six hours was measured biochemically. This enzyme was used as a marker enzyme reflecting lysosomal labilization. Results showed a significant stabilization of the lysosomal membrane at 4 degrees C as compared to 37 degrees C. A trend towards stabilization of the lysosomal membrane was seen when 10(-8) M concentration of hydrocortisone at 37 degrees C was used, there being no demonstrable stabilization at 4 degrees C.