Thirty-five patients with primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachments were followed for at least 6 months after scleral buckling procedures with subretinal fluid (SRF) drainage, in order to define factors influencing anatomic and visual outcome. Thirty-two cases were surgically reattached; three were not. Among the reattached cases, final visual acuity was poorer in patients with: older age; longer standing, more extensive detachments; detachment of the macula (with or without the development of a visible macular lesion); macular lesions; and higher SRF butyrylcholinesterase activity. These factors were themselves interrelated. Follow-up duration was only weakly related to final acuity, probably because of the long post-surgical follow-up. Phakic/aphakic status bore little relationship to final acuity. The type or timing relative to drainage of inflammation producing treatment was not related to final acuity.