When connections are first formed during the development of the vertebrate nervous system, inputs from different sources are frequently intermixed and the specific adult pattern then emerges as the different inputs segregate from each other. During the prenatal development of connections between retina and lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in the cat, the projections from the two eyes initially overlap with each other within the LGN. Over the next 3 weeks a reduction in the amount of overlap occurs so that by birth, a segregated pattern similar to the adult is present. We report here that during the period of overlap, individual retinogeniculate axons are simple in shape and restricted in extent without any widespread branches. Further, the appearance of the segregated pattern of eye input is accompanied by the elaboration of extensive new axonal arbors within appropriate LGN territory accompanied by retraction of only a limited number of minor branches. This developmental strategy contrasts with that in other regions of the vertebrate central nervous system in which the orderly adult pattern of connections within a target is achieved by a relative reduction in the overall extent of the axon arbor.