Background: The effect of 0.1% dexamethasone on epithelial healing was evaluated in corneal alkali wounds. Methods: Epithelial wounds were induced by a 60-s application of a round filter paper (5.5 mm) soaked in 1 N NaOH onto the central cornea of the rabbit. Animals were treated with 0.1% dexamethasone 4 times each day for 8 weeks in one subgroup and only for the 1st week in the other subgroup. The control eyes were treated with a balanced salt solution. The repair processes of epithelium and its basement membrane were evaluated morphologically and morphometrically. Results: Treatment with 0.1% dexamethasone was found to retard the repair process of epithelial healing compared with the control eyes. Morphologically, the basement membrane in the control cornea was damaged focally at 2 days, maximally disrupted at 4 weeks, and regained the normal integrity at 8 weeks after the initial alkali damage. In 0.1% dexamethasone-treated corneas, regardless of the application period, the basement membrane structure was visible up to 4 weeks but disappeared at 8 weeks after the initial alkali wounds. The eyes treated with 0.1% dexamethasone for 8 weeks showed an intense infiltration of inflammatory cells in the superficial stroma 4 weeks after treatment. Conclusion: A topical application of 0.1% dexamethasone retarded the corneal epithelial healing. The cornea treated with 0.1% dexamethasone only for the 1st week maintained a well-preserved basement membrane for as long as 4 weeks after initial damage without enhancement of the inflammatory cell infiltration. However, further study is needed to prevent late disintegration of the basement membrane.