PURPOSE. Biochemical analysis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at distinct stages of the disease will help further understanding of the molecular events associated with disease progression. This study was conducted to determine the ability of a new grading system for eye bank eyes, the Minnesota Grading System (MGS), to discern distinct stages of AMD so that retinal region-specific changes in rod photoreceptor protein expression from donors could be determined. METHODS. Donor eyes were assigned to a specific level of AMD by using the MGS. Expression of the rod photoreceptor proteins rhodopsin and arrestin was evaluated by Western immunoblot analysis in the macular and peripheral regions of the neurosensory retina from donors at different stages of AMD. RESULTS. A significant linear decline in both arrestin and rhodopsin content correlated with progressive MGS levels in the macula. In contrast, the peripheral region showed no significant correlation between MGS level and the content of either protein. CONCLUSIONS. The statistically significant relationship between decreasing macular rod photoreceptor proteins and progressive MGS levels of AMD demonstrates the utility of the clinically based MGS to correspond with specific protein changes found at known, progressive stages of degeneration. Future biochemical analysis of clinically characterized donor eyes will further understanding of the pathobiochemistry of AMD.