The depth profiles of visually evoked field potentials were recorded in areas 17 and 18 of the cat visual cortex. For comparison, potential profiles evoked by electrical stimulation of the primary afferents and of the nonspecific reticular system were also recorded. From these profiles the current source-density (CSD) distributions were calculated using the one-dimensional CSD method. CSD distributions evoked by the different types of stimuli differ in their amplitudes and time courses by approximately one and two orders of magnitude. Qualitatively, however, they are very similar. Thus, the CSDs can be interpreted as reflecting the same basic pattern of excitatory synaptic activations. This pattern consists of early activation components in the input layers, followed by excitatory synaptic activations in layer III, then in layer II, and in layer V. The basic pattern of cortical activation was found to be modulated by specific features of the visual stimuli. Modulations reflecting contour-versus contrast-contents as well as those reflecting characteristic features of moving patterns have been identified. Most of the CSD components of the cortical activation sequence were obtained from regions extending well beyond the cellular receptive fields in visual cortex. Thus, they reflect nonretinotopic activities. Parameters other than specific features of the visual stimuli have profound influence on cortical CSDs. Nonspecific parameters which have been considered are the general state of cortical excitability, the temporal interactions of successive activities (which are predominantly facilitatory), and the lateral interactions of simultaneous activations from different regions of the visual field (predominantly inhibitory).