The claustrum is a telencephalic cell group (Fig. 1A, B) possessing widespread reciprocal connections with the neocortex. In this regard, it bears a unique and striking resemblance to the thalamus. We have now examined the anatomical ordering of pathways linking the claustrum with sensory areas of the cat neocortex and, in parallel electrophysiological experiments, have studied the functional organization of claustral sensory zones so identified. Our findings indicate that there are discrete visual and somatosensory subdivisions in the claustrum interconnected with the corresponding primary sensory areas of the neocortex and that the respective zones contain orderly retinotopic and somatotopic maps. A third claustral region receiving fibre projections from the auditory cortex in or near area Ep was found to contain neurones responsive to auditory stimulation. We conclude that loops connecting sensory areas of the neocortex with satellite zones in the claustrum contribute to the early processing of exteroceptive information by the forebrain.