BACKGROUND: Indocyanine green-assisted internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling was suspected to disrupt the innermost layer of the neural retina. We examined whether surgically excised specimens contain remnants of neuronal tissue. METHODS: Ten patients with macular hole underwent pars plana vitrectomy and indocyanine green-assisted ILM peeling. A total of 0.1 mL of a 0.5% indocyanine green solution was applied for 15 seconds. The ILM specimens were prepared for immunohistochemistry, using a polyclonal antibody against protein gene product 9.5. Protein gene product 9.5 is a pan-neuronal marker labeling human neuronal cells. Appropriate controls to show selectivity of the antibody were performed on neuronal tissue of donor eyes. One ILM was prepared for electron microscopy. RESULTS: A selective expression of protein gene product 9.5 was found in neuronal fibers of the retina and optic nerve of donor eyes. Only 1 of the 10 surgical ILM specimens showed a minimal focal positivity for protein gene product 9.5. No neuronal tissue was detected on the ILM by electron microscopy. CONCLUSION: Focal expression of protein gene product 9.5 in only 1 of 10 surgical ILM specimens argues against a general indocyanine green-related disruption of the innermost retinal layers. However, higher concentrations of the dye, longer incubation times or different solvents than used in this study may lead to different results.