Postsynaptic potentials (PSPs) were recorded from cat striate cortical cells by the whole-cell in vivo recording technique using patch-clamp electrodes. EPSPs and IPSPs evoked by flashing bars on the receptive field at different positions and orientations revealed the spatial structure of the excitatory and inhibitory inputs. The elongation of the excitatory input field (length:width ratio) was found to be minimal (mean ratio of 1.7) and much lower than those reported for spike discharges. Two-dimensional receptive field response profiles of early PSPs were recorded by flashing a small spot of light over a square matrix covering the receptive field. These recordings also showed only mild degrees of elongations of the receptive field. Such elongations could be the result of either an excitatory input from the geniculate that is already biased for orientation or an excitatory convergence from a limited number of LGN fields arranged in a row. In most first- order cells, we found that inhibition was contributing significantly to orientation selectivity. Often prominent IPSPs could be evoked by stimuli of nonoptimum orientations. Presence of inhibition could also be inferred by the way that EPSPs were sharply cut off by inhibition. When the amplitude of an EPSP was measured at different latencies after its onset, the EPSP was found to be very broadly tuned to orientation at the beginning, but showing increasing orientation selectivity with time. It is proposed that this progressive development of orientation selectivity is due to (1) inhibitory inputs arriving after the first wave of excitation, (2) intracortical excitatory inputs from other cells tuned to similar orientations, and (3) voltage-sensitive mechanisms such as NMDA channels.