BACKGROUND: Bacillus species remain an important cause of post-traumatic endophthalmitis, often causing permanent visual loss. METHODS: Twenty two rabbits were used to evaluate the clinical and histological findings of Bacillus cereus experimental post-traumatic endophthalmitis. Eyes that had received a scleral laceration and surgical repair were inoculated with Bacillus cereus. Thirty four other rabbits were used to evaluate the efficacy of intravitreal ciprofloxacin in treating experimental disease. RESULTS: Animals developed a post-traumatic endophthalmitis that closely mimicked human disease, characterised by a rapidly progressive and destructive endophthalmitis. Histological evaluation revealed retinal detachment, retinal necrosis, and the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the subretinal space. Intravitreal ciprofloxacin (100 micrograms) prevented the development of disease when given 1 hour and 6 hours after trauma and inoculation. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical and histological examination of experimental Bacillus cereus post-traumatic endophthalmitis suggests that retinal detachment and retinal necrosis play important roles in visual loss. Ciprofloxacin may be of benefit in the management of certain intraocular infections following penetrating injury.