Delivery of sufficient amounts of therapeutic drugs into the eye is often a challenging task. In this study, ultrasound application (frequencies of 400 KHz to 1 MHz, intensities of 0.3-1.0 W/cm(2) and exposure duration of 5 min) was investigated to overcome the barrier properties of cornea, which is a typical route for topical administration of ophthalmic drugs. Permeability of ophthalmic drugs, tobramycin and dexamethasone and sodium fluorescein, a drug-mimicking compound, was studied in ultrasound- and sham-treated rabbit corneas in vitro using a standard diffusion cell setup. Light microscopy observations were used to determine ultrasound-induced structural changes in the cornea. For tobramycin, an increase in permeability for ultrasound- and sham-treated corneas was not statistically significant. Increase of 46%-126% and 32%-109% in corneal permeability was observed for sodium fluorescein and dexamethasone, respectively, with statistical significance (p < 0.05) achieved at all treatment parameter combinations (compared with sham treatments) except for 1-MHz ultrasound applications for dexamethasone experiments. This permeability increase was highest at 400 kHz and appeared to be higher at higher intensities applied. Histologic analysis showed structural changes that were limited to epithelial layers of cornea. In summary, ultrasound application provided enhancement of drug delivery, increasing the permeability of the cornea for the anti-inflammatory ocular drug dexamethasone. Future investigations are needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of this application in in vivo long-term survival studies.