We have studied the organization of receptive fields of ganglion cells in the isolated mouse retina and have shown that the organization is similar to that of the cat. Based upon responses to circular and annular stimuli, most ganglion cells (90%; N = 83) had receptive fields with concentric center-surround organization, either ON or OFF center. The plot of response amplitude vs. stimulus area for these cells increased to a maximum (corresponding to a diameter of 10.0 +/- 2.8 deg S.E.M.; N = 13) and then decreased for larger stimuli, demonstrating the presence of an antagonistic surround. The dark-adapted sensitivity (205 +/- 43.8 impulses quantum-1 rod-1; mean +/- S.E.M.) did not differ from that measured for the intact preparation. We found a subset of OFF-center cells for which the dark discharge was very regular (mean coefficient of variation = 0.30). Using sinusoidal grating stimuli, we classified ganglion cells as X-like (87%) and Y-like (13%) based on spatial summation properties and the presence of subunit activity in the receptive-field center. We found no difference in the spatial-frequency preference between X-like and Y-like cells in the central retina (high cutoff frequency, 0.20 +/- 0.014 cycle/deg, mean +/- S.E.M.), in contrast to the marked difference between X cells and Y cells in the cat. Thus, ganglion cell receptive fields in the mouse retina resemble those of the cat, although the spatial characteristics of the receptive fields in the central retina are more homogeneous. This homogeneity would simplify the comparison of retinas from normal and mutant strains of the mouse.