Retinae of kittens between postnatal (P) days 2 and 10 were examined for the presence of degenerating neuronal profiles, normal nucleoli and microglia. Comparison of the numbers of degenerating profiles with numbers of axons lost from the optic nerve suggest that the majority of these profiles result from the degeneration of retinal ganglion cells. Analysis of local densities of the different profiles revealed different rates of cell loss, occurring at different times in central and peripheral retina. The period of rapid cell loss occurred between P2 and P3 in central retina compared to between P8 and P10 in peripheral retina. At both locations, these periods of rapid cell loss were accompanied by a decrease in the ratio of microglia to dying cells even though the absolute densities of microglia increased. However, calculation of the clearance times of cellular debris indicate that the speed of removal of degeneration products is greater during rapid cell loss, which suggests that cellular degeneration serves to activate the phagocytic process.