Topographic maps are a fundamental organizational feature of axonal connections in the brain. A prominent model for studying axial polarity and topographic map development is the vertebrate retina and its projection to the optic tectum (or superior colliculus). Linked processes are controlled by molecules that are graded along the axes of the retina and its target fields. Recent studies indicate that ephrin-As control the temporal-nasal mapping of the retina in the optic tectum/superior colliculus by regulating the topographically-specific interstitial branching of retinal axons along the anterior-posterior tectal axis. This branching is mediated by relative levels of EphA receptor repellent signaling. A major recent advance is the demonstration that EphB receptor forward signaling and ephrin-B reverse signaling mediate axon attraction to control dorsal-ventral retinal mapping along the lateral-medial tectal axis. In addition, several classes of regulatory proteins have been implicated in the control of the axial patterning of the retina, and its ultimate readout of topographic mapping.