While the chick is one of the widely used animal models for eye growth studies very little is known about its visual spatial resolution performance. Using optokinetic nystagmus responses as an indicator of stimulus visibility, we estimated the visual acuity of young chicks to be between 6.0 and 7.7 cycles deg-1 at 2 and 4 days of age and slightly higher, between 7.7 and 8.6 cycle deg-1, at 8 days. Contrast sensitivity measured using the same experimental paradigm was greatest at around 1.2 cycle deg-1, for which the contrast threshold lay between 4% and 11%. Sensitivity became progressively poorer for frequencies both higher and lower than this. These data suggest that the visual performance of the chick is slightly poorer than that of the pigeon which has a similar eye size and exhibits similar foraging behaviour.