Midget bipolar cells form the first distinct step in the parvocellular (P-) pathway of the primate visual system, and are the major determinant of the receptive field properties of colour selective midget ganglion cells. This paper describes the sampling properties of the midget bipolar cell population and relates this to the processing of chromatic information in the P-pathway. Immunocytochemical markers were used to label midget bipolar cells so that their spatial density could be compared with that of cones and ganglion cells. Sections through macaque monkey retinae were immunostained with antibodies against cholecystokinin (CCK), and recoverin. In CCK-labelled sections, in addition to blue cone bipolar cells, numerous thin bipolar cell dendrites, which could be associated with individual cone pedicles are stained. CCK-immunoreactive midget bipolar cells are found throughout the retina. A different population of midget bipolar cells is revealed in recoverin-labelled sections. Based on a comparison with midget bipolar cells in Golgi-stained retinae we propose that ON-midget (invaginating) bipolars are immunoreactive for CCK and confirm that OFF-midget (flat) bipolar cells are immunoreactive for recoverin [Milam, Dacey and Dizhoor (1993) Visual Neuroscience, 10, 1-12]. The density of recoverin labelled midget bipolars matches the cone density to an eccentricity of about 10 mm; from there outwards it drops to 60% of the cone density. This suggests convergence of several cones to individual midget bipolar cells in peripheral retina. We conclude that midget bipolar cells are present throughout the entire primate retina, and could, in peripheral as well as in central retina, provide chromatically specific input to the P-pathway.