Spatial distribution of 34 metabolites along the optical and equatorial axes of the human lens has been determined. For the majority of metabolites, the homogeneous distribution has been observed. That suggests that the rate of the metabolite transformation in the lens is low due to the general metabolic passivity of the lens fiber cells. However, the redox processes are active in the lens; as a result, some metabolites, including antioxidants, demonstrate the "nucleus-depleted" type of distribution, whereas secondary UV filters show the "nucleus-enriched" type. The metabolite concentrations at the lens poles and equator are similar for all metabolites under study. The concentric pattern of the "nucleus-depleted" and "nucleus-enriched" distributions testifies that the metabolite distribution inside the lens is mostly governed by a passive diffusion, relatively free along the fiber cells and retarded in the radial direction across the cells. No significant difference in the metabolite distribution between the normal and cataractous human lenses was found. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.