Smooth pursuit eye movements allow primates to keep gaze pointed at small objects moving across stationary surroundings. In monkeys trained to track a small moving target, we have injected brief perturbations of target motion under different initial conditions as probes to read out the state of the visuo-motor pathways that guide pursuit. A large eye movement response was evoked if the perturbation was applied to a moving target the monkey was tracking. A small response was evoked if the same perturbation was applied to a stationary target the monkey was fixating. The gain of the response to the perturbation increased as a function of the initial speed of target motion and as a function of the interval from the onset of target motion to the time of the perturbation. The response to the perturbation also was direction selective. Gain was largest if the perturbation was along the axis of ongoing target motion and smallest if the perturbation was orthogonal to the axis of target motion. We suggest that two parallel sets of visual motion pathways through the extrastriate visual cortex may mediate, respectively, the visuo-motor processing for pursuit and the modulation of the gain of transmission through those pathways.