Zeta-crystallin, a major "taxon-specific" protein of the guinea pig lens, specifically binds NADPH. Analysis of pyridine nucleotide levels in guinea pig lens revealed values for NADPH approximately 50-fold higher than in other lenses. Indeed to our knowledge the values reported are higher than have been observed in any tissue. A clear correlation exists between NADPH and zeta-crystallin contents of the lens both in normal guinea pigs during development and in a line of guinea pigs with a mutation in the gene for zeta-crystallin. Heterozygotes for this mutation had a 50% reduction in NADPH, while homozygotes have only about 6% of the normal level. NADP+ levels were also markedly elevated suggesting that redox cycling of the NADPH is occurring. © 1990.