1. The interaction between the center and surround mechanisms of a variety of rabbit retinal ganglion cell classes was examined in extracellular single- unit recordings in an isolated eyecup preparation. Ganglion cell classes studied included ON and OFF brisk sustained and transient, ON and OFF sluggish sustained and transient, ON-OFF and ON directionally selective, orientationally selective, and large field units. The surround effects observed were qualitatively similar in all these ganglion cell classes. 2. The average response-versus contrast functions for stimuli within the ganglion cells' receptive-field centers were relatively linear between threshold and saturation for all ganglion cell classes examined. The major effect of surround stimulation on the center response-versus-contrast function was a reduction in the slope of the linear portion of the curve, rather than a downward, parallel shift of the function. Stimulation of the surround had no systematically significant effect on the contrast threshold for the center spot, and, when it did have a significant effect, it sometimes decreased, rather than increased the magnitude of the threshold. 3. Step changes in surround contrast were most effective when they were made simultaneously with step changes in the center: surround inhibition decreased significantly when it preceded stimulation of the center by >100 ms and was generally ineffective when preceding the center by >500 ms. The decrease in the inhibitory effect of surround stimulation was a monotonic function of delay between 0 and 500 ms. 4. Stimulation of the surround by step changes in the contrast of a sine-wave grating annulus produced qualitatively similar re suits to those obtained for pure luminance modulations. This suggests that the surround mechanism observed in these experiments was not due to pure luminance adaptation within the surround. The inhibitory effect of sine-wave gratings in the surround decreased monotonically as a function of spatial frequency. 5. Stimulation with a spot and an annulus that were both entirely within the ganglion cell's excitatory receptive-held center typically yielded nonadditive summation at contrasts whose linear sum of responses were below saturation. The effect of an annulus within the receptive-field center on responses elicited by a central spot quantitatively resembled the inhibition elicited from annuli in the inhibitory surround, after the excitatory center response due to the annulus was taken into account. These results suggest that the inhibition elicited from the surrounds of the ganglion cells in these experiments extended into their receptive-field centers. 6. The strength of inhibition elicited from the surround declined with reductions in the background level, both for a given modulation depth, and for the same absolute modulation amplitude. At the lowest backgrounds used, there was no apparent inhibition of center responses by the surround. 7. Particularly for transient ganglion cells, the nature of the interaction between surround and center mechanisms is generally consistent with nonlinear, division-like models for center-surround interaction, such as contrast gain control, but not with linear models in which the surround is subtractively antagonistic to the center.