Retinae from species of six orders of mammals (table 1) were processed by an on-the-slide neurofibrillar staining method to establish whether alpha-type ganglion cells are generally present in placental mammals. Alpha cells of the domestic cat, where they were first defined as a type, are used as a standard of reference. Alpha cells were found in all the twenty species examined; characteristically they have the largest somata and large dendritic fields with a typical branching pattern. In keeping with the common morphology there are inner and outer stratifying subpopulations and therefore a presumptive 'on-centre' and 'off-centre' responsiveness to light. Depending on the species, alpha cells form between 1 and 4% of the ganglion-cell population and their dendritic fields cover the retina three to four times. The morphology of alpha ganglion cells, and many of their quantitative features, are conserved in mammals coming from different habitats and having a wide variety of behaviours. Because it is known different habitats and having a wide variety of behaviours. Because it is known from the cat that alpha ganglion cells have brisk-transient or Y receptive fields it is possible that all placental mammals possess this physiological system.