Critical flicker frequency (CFF) is the lowest frequency for which a flickering light is indistinguishable from a non-flickering light of the same mean luminance. CFF is related to light intensity, with cone photoreceptors capable of achieving higher CFF than rods. A contemporaneous measure of rod and cone function can facilitate characterization of a retinal degeneration. We used sinusoidal flicker ERG to obtain CFF values, over a wide range of light intensities, in RCS dystrophic (RCS-p+) and wild type rats. Recordings were made at PN23, PN44, and PN64. The CFF curve in control animals increased in proportion to the log of stimulus intensity, with a gentle slope over the lowest 4 log-unit intensity range. The slope of the CFF curve dramatically increased for higher intensities, indicating a rod-cone break. In the RCS rats the rod driven CFF was significantly lower in amplitude compared to normal rats at the earliest age tested (PN23). By PN64 the rod driven CFF was immeasurable in the RCS rats. The amplitude of the cone driven CFF approached normal values at PN23, but was greatly reduced by PN44. By PN64 the entire CFF function was greatly depressed and there was no longer a discernable rod'cone break. These CFF/ERG data show that RCS rats exhibit significant early degeneration of the rods, followed soon after by degeneration of the cones. Using this approach, rod and cone function can be independently accessed using flicker ERG by testing at a few select intensities. © Springer-Verlag 2007.