In normal development, cell layers in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) segregate from a relatively homogeneous cell group. If all retinal input is removed prior to this segregation, the layers fail to form. In the present study, we used ultrastructural and morphometric analyses to study dLGN development in the tree shrew following neonatal removal of retinal input. The goal of the present study was to determine whether there are differences between normal animals and enucleates in the development of dLGN cells and their interrelationships with each other and/or with the surrounding glia, which might explain the failure of cellular lamination in enucleated animals. The results indicate that although the development in enucleated animals may take place somewhat more slowly, by P90 cell size and density are not significantly different from normal. These results, coupled with the observation that the dLGN in enucleates is smaller than in normals, suggest that the removal of retinal input results in dLGN cell loss. At both the light and electron microscopic level, cells in the developing normal dLGN are arranged in bands of immediately adjacent cells. In enucleates, dLGN cells are less frequently in immediate contact and are arranged in small groups or clumps which may be separated by degenerating cells. The present data suggest that the presence of retinal input may be necessary to allow dLGN cells to maintain the intercellular relationships necessary for laminar segregation to take place.