This study defines retinal phosphatic metabolites and their adjustment to illumination in rat retinas under conditions that preserve retinal function. Metabolic data are measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (31P NMR) spectroscopy after 10 min of light exposure in vivo compared with retinas from dark-adapted rats. Multiple high-energy and low-energy phosphatic metabolites of intermediary metabolism were quantified. The concentration of the high-energy phosphate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) remained unchanged from dark- to light-adaptation. Under the same conditions the concentrations of the high-energy phosphates guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and creatine phosphate increased, whereas the inorganic phosphate decreased. Comparing dark-adapted controls with retinas light-adapted either in vitro or in vivo, the evidence is consistent with a light-dependent increase in GTP and a decrease in cyclic guanosine monophosphate. Although cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels were lower in retinas light-adapted in vivo than in the dark-adapted controls, this did not seem to be an effect of light, as cAMP levels decreased similarly after 10 min incubation in dark or light in parallel with recovery of ATP/adenosine diphosphate ratios. This study: (1) reports on retinal metabolic changes with adjustment in illumination, (2) provides baseline measurements of retinal phosphatic metabolites in whole retinas, and (3) reports on the validity of chromatographic and spectroscopic methods used for studying retinal metabolism establishing a high correlation among measurements made using HPLC and 31P NMR.