The possibility of proteinase inhibitory activities in lenses measured with synthetic substrates being spurious, due to the effective competition of lens proteins as substrates for the target enzymes, was investigated. Goat, sheep and human cataractous lens proteins were found to be poor substrates for trypsin, elastase and papain compared to casein or bovine serum albumin. Further, the inhibition of elastase catalyzed hydrolysis of succinyl trialanyl p-nitroanilide by casein (500 μg, 53%) and albumin (500 μg, 49%) and of trypsin-catalyzed hydrolysis of benzoyl argininep-nitroanilide by albumin (1 mg, 24%) were significant only at high protein concentrations. These data indicated that the relatively high antielastase and antitryptic activities observed in human cataractous lenses were real. On the other hand, coincident lens protein hydrolysis elevating the true antitryptic and antielastase activities in goat and sheep lenses (that have low activities) could not be ruled out The lesser papain inhibitory activities observed in lenses when albumin was used as substrate compared to activities with benzoyl arginine p-nitroanilide as substrate, appeared to be partly due to lens protein hydrolysis masking the actual inhibition in the former method. Preincubation of goat, sheep and human lens extracts with trypsin for 1 h resulted in complete loss of antitryptic and antielastase activity except in the case of human lens antielastase activity which underwent 50% loss. Papain inhibitory activity was fully stable. Similar papain treatment caused loss of 80–100% of antielastase activity and 45–55% loss of antitryptic activity.