The important visual stimulus parameters for a given cell are defined by the classical receptive field (CRF). However, cells are also influenced by visual stimuli presented in areas surrounding the CRF. The experiments described here were conducted to determine the incidence and nature of CRF surround influences in the primary visual cortex. From extracellular recordings in the cat's striate cortex, we find that for over half of the cells investigated (56%, 153/271), the effect of stimulation in the surround of the CRF is to suppress the neuron's activity by at least 10% compared to the response to a grating presented within the CRF alone. For the remainder of the cells, the interactions were minimal and a few were of a facilitatory nature. In this paper, we focus on the suppressive interactions. Simple and complex cell types exhibit equal incidences of surround suppression. Suppression is observed for cells in all layers, and its degree is strongly correlated between the two eyes for binocular neurons. These results show that surround suppression is a prevalent form of inhibition and may play an important role in visual processing.