A white noise technique is presented for estimating the response properties of spiking visual system neurons. The technique is simple, robust, efficient and well suited to simultaneous recordings from multiple neurons. It provides a complete and easily interpretable model of light responses even for neurons that display a common form of response nonlinearity that precludes classical linear systems analysis. A theoretical justification of the technique is presented that relies only on elementary linear algebra and statistics. Implementation is described with examples. The technique and the underlying model of neural responses are validated using recordings from retinal ganglion cells, and in principle are applicable to other neurons. Advantages and disadvantages of the technique relative to classical approaches are discussed.