This study investigated tear ferning results and clinical and chemical analysis of tears in dry eye subjects. Tests included non- invasive break-up time (nibut), fluorescein break- up time (flbut), tear ferning, total tear protein, and high performance liquid chromatography. Five dry eye subjects identified by positive rose bengal staining were compared to 35 normal, non- contact lens wearing control subjects. For the dry eye subjects the nibut was significantly shorter (p=.01), the ferning pattern was significantly poorer (p=.04), and lactoferrin concentration was significantly higher (p=.02) than the controls. A trend for a decreased concentration of high molecular weight protein fraction was seen for the dry eye subjects (p=.052). Understanding the underlying mechanism for tear film abnormalities associated with the dry eye may be explained by chemical analysis and diagnostically supported by the ferning test.