Using behaving monkeys, we studied the visual responses of single neurons in the parvocellular layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) to a set of two-dimensional black and white patterns. We found that monkeys could be trained to make sufficiently reliable and stable fixations to enable us to plot and characterize the receptive fields of individual neurons. A qualitative examination of rasters and a statistical analysis of the data revealed that the responses of neurons were related to the stimuli. The data from 5 of the 13 'X-like' neurons in our sample indicated the presence of antagonistic center and surround mechanisms and linear summation of luminance within center and surround mechanisms. We attribute the lack of evidence for surround antagonism in the eight neurons that failed to exhibit center-surround antagonism either to a mismatch between the size of the pixels in the stimuli and the size of the receptive field or to the lack of a surround mechanism (i.e., the type II neurons of Wiesel and Hubel). The data from five other neurons confirm and extend previous reports indicating that the surround regions of X-like neurons can have nonlinearities. The responses of these neurons were not modulated when a contrast-reversing, bipartite stimulus was centered on the receptive field, which suggests a linear summation within the center and surround mechanisms. However, it was frequently the case for these neurons that stimuli of identical pattern but opposite contrast elicited responses of similar polarity, which indicates nonlinear behavior. We found a wide variety of temporal patterns in the responses of individual LGN neurons, which included differences in the magnitude, width, and number of peaks of the initial on-transient and in the magnitude of the later sustained component. These different temporal patterns were repeatable and clearly different for different visual patterns. These results suggest that visual information may be carried in the shape as well as in the amplitude of the response waveform.