We have used intraocular sulphur hexafluoride or liquid silicone as an adjunct to vitreous surgery in the treatment of a non-randomised sequential series of 19 eyes with retinal detachment complicated by proliferative vitreoretinopathy. We have studied the surgical results and complications of these two tamponades and drawn preliminary conclusions on their use in retinal reattachment surgery. After a seven-month minimum follow-up 13 (68%) of the eyes have reattached retinas. Six (60%) of 10 eyes treated only with silicone have reattached retinas, and four (67%) of six eyes treated only with sulphur hexafluoride gas tamponade have reattached retinas. An additional three eyes treated initially with silicone oil subsequently developed retinal detachments; all were successfully reattached with sulphur hexafluoride tamponade after silicone oil removal. Intraoperative pneumatic retinal reattachment to assess relief of retinal traction combined with the production of widespread chorioretinal adhesions to wall off persistent anterior traction and detachment, as well as extended postoperative gas tamponade of the retina, appears to enhance the surgical results in retinal detachment complicated by proliferative vitreoretinopathy. Silicone oil tamponade of the retina appears to be useful in cases where retinal traction cannot be entirely relieved and in patients who are unable to tolerate the head positioning required for effective gas tamponade of the retina. A controlled clinical study recently begun will be required to define further the precise role of these methods of retinal tamponade.