The vertebrate retina contains ganglion cells that appear to be specialized for detecting temporal changes. The characteristic response of these cells is a transient burst of action potentials when a stationary image is presented or removed, and often a strong discharge to moving images. These transient and motion-sensitive responses are thought to result from processing in the inner retina that involves amacrine cells, but the critical interactions have been difficult to reveal. Here, we used a cell-ablation technique to remove a subpopulation of amacrine cells from the mouse retina. Their ablation changed transient ganglion cell responses into prolonged discharges. This suggests that transient responses are generated, at least in part, by a truncation of sustained excitatory input to the ganglion cells and that the ablated amacrine cells are critical for this process.