The West Australian dhufish, Glaucosoma hebraicum Richardson (family Glaucosomatidae) is a potentially valuable aquaculture species, but spontaneous exophthalmos is common in freshly caught and cultured dhufish. To investigate the epidemiology and pathogenesis of exophthalmos in tanks of wild-caught and captive-bred dhufish, records of culture conditions, the prevalence of lesions and pathological examinations were used to study the disease and associated environmental and management factors. Naturally occurring cases of exophthalmos that were examined were mostly unilateral and occurred more frequently in summer months during periods of increasing water temperature. In 15 affected eyes that were examined histologically gas bubbles and haemorrhages were consistently present in the choroid. In some, gas bubbles and haemorrhage were also present in retrobulbar tissues associated with perforation of the sclera. Oxygen concentrations were measured in 12 exophthalmic eyes and concentrations of 50-73% were recorded in gas bubbles in the anterior chamber of three of these that were acute cases. Very low oxygen tensions were recorded at the retinal-vitreal junction of four eyes with retrobulbar haemorrhages indicating that there may have been disruption of arterial blood supply to the choroid in chronic lesions or with perforation of the sclera. The results of experiments to determine the significance of exercise, high water temperature, sudden increases in light intensity, fish handling or tank cleaning indicate that exercise and/or high water temperature (25.5°C) may be important risk factors for the development of exophthalmos in dhufish. Possible mechanisms for the formation of gas bubbles and haemorrhage in the choroid are discussed.