Four patients with congenital double elevator palsy were studied who had clinically brisk elevation of the affected eye from downgaze to the midline position of rest, but severely limited or absent elevation above primary position. Forced duction tests were negative and Bell's phenomenon was present preoperatively in all patients. To clarify why upgaze saccades clinically seemed intact below but not above midline, vertical saccadic velocities were measured using the scleral search coil technique. The tracings of three cases suggest sufficient superior rectus function to generate a normal upward saccadic trajectory. A supranuclear lesion is the most likely etiology of the inability to elevate the eye well above primary position in these three patients. In a fourth patient, the reduced ability to elevate the affected eye above primary position is caused by a superior rectus paresis with decreased upward saccadic velocities. We suggest at least three distinct groups of patients present clinically as double elevator palsy: primary inferior rectus restriction, primary superior rectus paresis or palsy, and congenital supranuclear elevation deficiency.