The normal development of refractive state, ocular components and simple visually-guided behaviors was examined in maternally-reared tree shrews. Six groups consisting of 5 animals each were anesthetized and examined after 0, 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75 days of normal binocular visual exposure. Measures in the 75-day group provided values for an unproved schematic eye of the tree shrew. Cycloplegic refraction showed a marked hyperopia (+25 D) at eye opening which decreased rapidly during the first 15 days of visual exposure and stabilized near the value (+5 D) expected in an eye of this axial length (approx. 7.8 mm). Corneal radius increased slightly during development. Anterior segment depth, measured by A-scan ultrasonography, seemed to complete most of its development at an earlier age (15-30 days of visual exposure) than did other ocular parameters. Lens thickness increased steadily throughout development. Vitreous chamber depth increased rapidly until 15 days of visual exposure, and then decreased because the lens thickness increased more rapidly than axial length. Crude orienting to, and following of, large objects developed shortly after eye opening (median age at onset, 5 and 6 days, respectively). Triggered visual placing responses developed at about the same time that the refractive state completed the rapid drop from highly hyperopic values. The slowed rate of ocular development after 15 days of visual exposure may be related to increased retinal activity that is permitted by neural maturation and by the presence of a relatively well-focussed retinal image. The increased activity may influence the final dimensions of the eye to coordinate the axial length with the focal length of the eye. © 1992.