Visual function declines with age. Using extracellular single-unit in vivo recordings, we compared the function of primary visual cortical (area 17) cells in young and old paralyzed, anesthetized cats. The results reveal that cortical neurons in old cats exhibit higher visually evoked responses, higher spontaneous activities, lower signal-to-noise ratios, and weaker orientation and direction selectivity than do cells in young adult cats. These findings are consistent with previously reported age related declines in cortical function in senescent macaque monkeys. Thus, similar declines in cortical function accompany old age in different mammalian species with well developed cortices.