Drosophila rdgC (retinal degeneration-C) mutants show normal retinal morphology and photoreceptor physiology at young ages. Dark-reared rdgC flies retain this wild-type phenotype, but light-reared mutants undergo retinal degeneration. rdgC photoreceptors with low levels of rhodopsin as a result of vitamin A deprivation or a mutant rhodopsin (ninaE) gene fail to show rdgC-induced degeneration even after prolonged light treatment, demonstrating that degeneration occurs as a result of light stimulation of rhodopsin. Analysis of norpA; rdgC flies shows that the norpA-encoded phospholipase C, the target enzyme of the G protein activated by rhodopsin, is not required for rdgC-induced degeneration. Thus the rdgC+ gene product is required to prevent retinal degeneration that results from a previously unrecognized consequence of rhodopsin stimulation.