We evaluated the performance of a liquid-crystal spatial light modulator for static correction of the aberrations in the human eye. By applying phase-retrieval techniques to pairs of double-pass images we first estimated the wave aberration of the eye to be corrected. Then we introduced the opposite phase map in the modulator, which was placed in a plane conjugated with the eye’s pupil, and we recorded double-pass images of a point source before and after correction of the aberrations. In a slightly aberrated artificial eye a clear improvement was obtained after correction, and, although diffraction-limited performance was not achieved, the results were close to the theoretical predictions. In the two living eyes that we studied some benefit also appeared in the correction, but the performance was worse than that expected. We evaluated possible explanations for the relatively poor performance that was obtained in the human eye: an incorrect estimate of the ocular aberration, the limited spatial resolution of the modulator, and the dynamic changes in the ocular aberrations. Based on the results in the artificial eye, the first problem was not considered to be a major source of error. However, we showed that the spatial resolution of the liquid-crystal spatial light modulator limits the maximum correction to be attained. In addition, the changes in the ocular optics over time also impose a limit in the performance of static corrections. © 1998 Optical Society of America [S0740-3232(98)00409-8] OCIS codes: 330.5370, 010.1080.