The ventral lateral geniculate nucleus (vLGN) of the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) was differentiated into multiple subdivisions (dorsal cap, intergeniculate leaflet, parvicellular segment, and internal and external magnocellular laminae, the latter being further divisible into a lateral and medial division) on the basis of retinal projections, immunochemistry, and histochemistry. Retinal projections traced with intravitreal injections of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated horseradish peroxidase revealed direct bilateral input to all subregions of the vLGN, except for the internal magnocellular lamina (which received only contralateral input) and the parvicellular segment (which was not retinorecipient). Furthermore, retinal inputs clearly distinguished the relatively heavily retinorecipient intergeniculate leaflet from the less prominently labeled dorsal cap. Immunohistochemical localization of Neuropeptide Y (NPY) perikarya revealed their prominence in the intergeniculate leaflet and the external magnocellular laminae with a concentration along the optic tract. NPY immunoreactive fibers were seen in all but the parvicellular subregion. Gamma amino butyric acid immunoreactivity was seen throughout the vLGN, but was most concentrated in the dorsal cap and the magnocellular laminae, followed by the intergeniculate leaflet. Histochemical studies of cytochrome oxidase and nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase localization revealed similar patterns of dense reactivity within the external magnocellular lamina, intergeniculate leaflet and dorsal cap, and somewhat less dense, but substantial reactivity in the internal magnocellular lamina. Within the external magnocellular lamina, cells reactive for cytochrome oxidase were noted in the lateral portion bordering the optic tract, whereas those specific for NADPH-diaphorase were dispersed throughout the lamina. Poor reactivity for both histochemical markers was evident in the parvicellular segment. Overall, the markedly different patterns of retinal input and neurochemical organization between the subdivisions of the tree shrew vLGN suggest their involvement in diverse functions. Furthermore, the basic similarity of the organization of the tree shrew vLGN to that of the taxonomically unrelated ground squirrel may indicate a common mammalian scheme.