Cats were trained to make fine orientation discriminations with stimuli similar to those used in physiological experiments--narrow, light bars 12 degrees long--before and after various combinations of lesions of areas 17 and 18. Discrimination thresholds were measured at different contrast levels and different bar widths, both pre- and postoperatively, for up to 1.5 years after the lesion. For high contrast stimuli, lesions restricted to area 17 or area 18 had little effect, but those lesions involving area 17 and a substantial part of area 18 raised thresholds. In the latter case there was a relationship between the amount of area 18 spared and the bar width at which discrimination was impaired. At low contrast deficits were seen only for narrow widths. These results lead to the following conclusions. (i) Orientation discrimination is a function distributed within and across areas 17 and 18. (ii) How this function is distributed in this cortex depends on stimulus width. (iii) The X system does not carry the signal necessary for orientation discrimination. (iv) Cells most narrowly tuned for orientation, which reside in the part of area 17 subserving central vision, do not determine the orientation discrimination threshold.