In this review, we summarize the main stages of structural and functional development of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). We first consider the various mechanisms that are involved in restructuring of dendritic trees. To date, many mechanisms have been implicated including target-dependent factors, interactions from neighboring RGCs, and afferent signaling. We also review recent evidence showing how rapidly such dendritic remodeling might occur, along with the intracellular signaling pathways underlying these rearrangements. Concurrent with such structural changes, the functional responses of RGCs also alter during maturation, from sub-threshold firing to reliable spiking patterns. Here we consider the development of intrinsic membrane properties and how they might contribute to the spontaneous firing patterns observed before the onset of vision. We then review the mechanisms by which this spontaneous activity becomes correlated across neighboring RGCs to form waves of activity. Finally, the relative importance of spontaneous versus light-evoked activity is discussed in relation to the emergence of mature receptive field properties.